Saturday, March 28, 2020

Hunkering Down

"We are hunkering down."

That's how I ended my previous post: The Switchel Traveler: Not Traveling. What does that look like in our household?

First I should talk about what "we" means. Not even all our friends know that currently "we" means four people not two.

The Mrs. and I live in Vermont, in the only house we've ever owned, where we raised three children and sent them out into the world. We've been empty-nesters for years. But due to unexpected circumstances, two of our adult children are living with us at present.

One daughter has been living with us since early February. She transitioned from a job in Massachusetts to a job in Vermont, and she moved in with us while looking for a house to buy. She has a house under contract, with a closing scheduled for mid-April. Our other daughter transitioned from graduate school in Connecticut to a postdoc position at a university in Massachusetts. She started on March 16, but the university shut down on March 14. She reported to work on her first day remotely, from our house. Our son is a tech worker in Colorado, and he is doing OK working out of his apartment.

Our family is fortunate, and it is wonderful having our two daughters with us during this time. I should mention that our university daughter is a microbiologist. Everyone should have a microbiologist in the house during a pandemic! She helps us evaluate the news, and she helps us stay safe.

"Hunkering down" for us means staying at home, with frequent walks in our neighborhood. We seldom venture out in the car. Both daughters work for their respective employers, as best they can, over the internet from our house. It's not perfect, but we've been doing this for two weeks now, since before the governor's "Stay Home" executive order, and it's working OK.

The Mrs. and I are thankful to be retired. Our hearts go out to the people now doing the jobs that we used to do. They have many unprecedented challenges during this pandemic.

In retirement the Mrs. and I acquired new part-time jobs, and those jobs are not without their own trials. The Mrs. joined the board of directors at a local bank. While it is painful to watch the stress on customers, staff, and management, the positive attitudes and daily stories of individual commitment are heartwarming. My main goal in retirement was to blog more, but I also ran for and was elected to the selectboard in my town. That supposedly part-time position has been more demanding than I expected, especially now. We town officials are figuring out how to do our jobs using Zoom.

Yesterday the Mrs. and I made a rare trip in the car – to the grocery store. Some days ago we stopped making quick trips to the market for an item or two. Our last big grocery shopping trip was on March 18. Our daughters helped us plan grocery shopping to last for three weeks. The idea is to keep trips out of the house to a minimum, to zero for as long as possible.

Everyone needs to eat, but few of us have enough food in the house to last for more than a few days. How does one safely shop for groceries? This video is outstanding, and I recommend it to everyone. Our microbiologist daughter says the glitter analogy is an excellent way to think about the coronavirus. See the image above for some "glitter" and remember that soap dissolves this kind of "glitter." Wash your hands frequently, and keep your hands away from your face!

Are we overreacting? I don't think so. This pandemic is serious. In the last few days I have learned several things that hit close to home. The first death from COVID-19 in our town occurred this week. (I don't know the person, even though this is a small town.) A friend is sick from COVID-19 and is hospitalized and on a ventilator. Among our close group of friends, several have family members (in various states) who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms and are self-isolating at home.

To sum up, we are hunkering down here and we are grateful for our fortunate circumstances. I have plenty of ingredients for making switchel! Including spirits to add as needed.

[The image above is from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Original image, uploaded on February 13, 2020. Description at the link: "This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab."]


Anonymous said...

Hearing the word switchel always makes me think of you!!Good memories...

George Putnam said...

Florence, nice to hear from you! I hope all is well in Texas. Yup, good memories of summer on the farm. Grandma Putnam's recipe is at the link.