This will be the day that will become the center point of my before and after – a new measure of quarantine time for me. The Thunderbirds flew over the Front Range and Boulder had a front row seat. The flyover, that made its way through the state then back to Las Vegas, where it originated, was to honor healthcare workers, first responders, military members and other essential personnel who are working on the front lines to combat covid19. The flight path originated in Colorado Springs at the Air Force Academy graduation then flew over more than 40 medical facilities. A well-spaced, masked crowd began to form in front of the fire station, which luckily happens to be in my neighborhood and even luckier, I just happened to be walking past and noticed the spread out groups of people gathering. It was the perfect vantage point as 2 firemen were stationed on top of the aerial ladder and were keeping watch as we waited patiently. It brought back so many memories of Dad and I at Richard-Gebaur Air Force Base, always on the hottest day of the year, with our heads tilted up to the sky in anticipation of the few seconds of thrill that would pass by in formation. And just like those hot days so long ago that were always worth the longer than anticipated wait, today did not disappoint. In fact, I was caught off guard at how emotional I became. It made me cry to look around and see masked faces, all with our eyes to the sky in hopeful anticipation, stopping everything we were doing to get a quick glimpse of one of the oldest formation squadron fly over head. Like my Dad said after I told him about my day, “Seeing the Thunderbirds makes you stand a little bit taller and a lot more patriotic.” You don’t just watch the Thunderbirds fly overhead, you feel them in your bones and in the depth of your soul. After they passed overhead, I realized I was sobbing, right there in the middle of 13th Street and High and I didn’t care who saw me because I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one. That soul tug lingered and will hover over me during these difficult days and that’s why I’m beginning my blog with it. The Thunderbirds flew over Boulder and became a new marker of before and after for me… a fulcrum of time. It was that important. It wore the silver lining cape today.
Way back when, I could tell you exactly what day of quarantine I was in… 6 days, 10 days, 2 weeks, more than 3 weeks and then one day I didn’t know and had to do the math with an initial check of my phone to see what date I was counting back from. If I didn’t have a phone with the date on it would I think it was March? Or maybe May? The fluidity of time seems to be increasing daily, or is it weekly? I’ve lost that sense of knowing the day because of the “almost the weekend” or “IS the weekend” or is the “weekend wrap up with Sunday” feels. It’s all mushed together now. Weekends, weekdays, all the same. Oddly, and surprising, time seems to be passing quicker than I would have predicted. I guess I’m not bored. I guess that’s good.
I’m beginning to understand the purpose and attraction to my black, stretched out, long overdue for the Goodwill pile, or possibly the trash pile, sweater. My 3 year-old grandson, Arlo, has a blanket he calls his bun-bun (appropriately named as there’s a bunny head in one of its corners) that he’s slept with since he was old enough to have something in his crib with him. It’s his security blanket and what he wants when he goes to bed, when he naps or when he’s hurt. I realized the other day that given that I’ve got multiple options on sweaters or sweatshirts, the black sweater is the one I continually go to. It has become my bun-bun, although unlike Arlo’s bun-bun, mine is used only during waking hours. I think I must have been wearing it on day one of quarantine, March 13, and it offered some sort of comfort and now, a whole bunch of days and weeks later, its still does.
Animal Kingdom on Mapleton Street continues… I was awakened in the middle of the night, once again, by animal noises in the night. So, after some research, I’ve concluded that I either had a muntjac (a type of barking deer) or a roe deer in either my back yard or my neighbors. I wanted to get up and have a look, but honestly was too tired. The quiet in my neighborhood, both at night and in the morning is becoming increasingly loud. This morning, while awakening to the sound of birds, I realized that I wasn’t hearing car doors slamming or engines staring up or any other typical sounds of life in an urban neighborhood. I like that. I like that a lot. It sounded like I was waking up in a cabin in the woods. Deer aren’t the only ones wandering around my neighborhood. Two mountain lions were caught on camera meandering down the snowy street during the early morning hours – a mere 3 blocks from my house. They eat deer so if those roe deer or muntjacs that I heard a few nights ago want to not become dinner, they best move along. The mountain lions are out. They’re hungry. Run. Run for your lives, deer.
And speaking of sounds in the night…every night here in Boulder, there is howling that starts at 8:00 p.m. and goes on for 5 or 10 minutes. Not wolves this time, but neighbors out on their porch howling to thank the medical personnel and relieve stress at the end of a day of quarantining. It’s a way for people to release pent up emotions while connecting with anyone in earshot. The dogs also seem to be getting in on the fun. I had heard of this, but hadn’t actually “heard” it until a few nights ago when I saw the family across the alley from me all out on their back deck howling, family dog included. The call and response aspect of it feels very Western storyteller-ish and gives feelings of unification. I’ve also heard about alley poetry readings in Boulder at night, (it is Boulder after all…), but feel like my energy is alining more with the howling right now. It’s loud. It’s a release. It’s good for the lungs and the spirit.
We had 18 inches of snow on top of a melting 10 inches of snow from a few days earlier and today I noticed that the middle school aged boys who live behind me (the howlers), have gathered up snow from their yard and have made a nice little ski run on their low deck that goes straight down into their yard. It’s short, but steep. A solid blue run, no turns. I love seeing what people will do around here to improvise for what they can’t do. It also may have been an extended outdoor recess for the parents inside.
More than once in the past few weeks I’ve heard the very dreaded squeak of a low smoke detector battery, a sound that brings on incredible anxiety and feelings of dread and seriously, now??? for me. I have high ceilings, no extension ladders, a respectable fear of heights and am not comfortable with anyone but me in my house right now, so a smoke alarm chirp is a terrible sound. It took a while, but I finally realized that the chirping was coming from someone else’s house and not mine. The someone else being the house of whoever is being interviewed. I know these medical, scientific or political experts have more important things on their plate right now than smoke detector batteries and I’m sorry they are having to deal with the incessant chirping. They must be on the same battery changing schedule as I hear the dreaded sound at least once a day now, thankfully on TV and the very HUGE silver lining, NOT from my house. I’ve got a rough history with those guys including removing and dismantling a unit then smashing it with a hammer when it still wouldn’t stop and even then the chirp continued from the smashed heap. I later learned that batteries will continue to chirp even once dead as a continued warning. A good idea, but seriously…? I’m guessing the land fills chirp.
There’s a whole lot about this month and one week of quarantining that I’ve really liked, starting with lessons in humility and learning how to improvise times 10, simply out of necessity. Cooking comes to mind first. I made stuffed peppers tonite. They were stuffed with peppers, sautéed onions and rice (I was very long on peppers). And no, it wasn’t very good. They looked much better then they tasted but they were good enough and good enough is good enough these days and they were healthy, so there was that. I also made peanut butter cookies for an after treat, so a weak dinner didn’t feel so weak as I had something to look forward to post peppers. I like that the pretenses have been pulled back. We’ve been humbled by this and there is no place to hide. Case in point, I just shared my lame pepper stuffed with pepper recipe to anyone who is reading this, something I would have never done 5 weeks ago as that wouldn’t have happened given that endless opportunities of ingredients would be available to me with a simple run to the grocery store. I’m putting this in the plus category and one I want to carry over. Make do. Improvise. And quit making lists for the grocery store that have 2 things on it, one of them likely not even edible..
Boulder has blessed me with 4 (or has it been 5? maybe 6?) big snows this winter. I’m not driving. I’m at home. I say bring it on, even in April, although I know it may cost me a big tulip show in my back yard that I was anxious to see, tulips planted by the previous homeowner. I know not all people are in agreement with me on this, but I do love the snow. I’ve always equated this to being born in Colorado where my personal barometer was set to higher altitudes with snow. The same day we got 18 inches of snow, I read that Boulder is the snowiest city in the country with a population over 50,000. Holy cow. I’m in snowdrift heaven.
To add to our FaceTime content, Susan and I have started pulling our trip photo books off the shelf, and one page at a time are reliving vacations. I have made photo books of every major trip I’ve made and Susan’s been on several of those trips with me, so she also has copies of the books. Today, she gave me a heads up before the FaceTime – The Camino, second round, first day. Logroño. Open your book to page one and and prepare. Done. When she called, I was ready. We relived our trip, page by page, memory by memory, all over again. This is the best thing ever to do with an extra hour and books that you glance at multiple times a day (especially while laying on my mat in my zoom pilates class, with prefect view of my book shelves…).
“Remember the hotel lobby where we had potato chips and wine for dinner? Or the time we ran into my friend from MA while in Burgos and you met her with that awkward, “are you going to go European or American with the greeting?” while deciding to go for the cheek kiss and she decided otherwise and somehow you ended up kissing her on the lips? That thing?? Or that amazing meal we had that night, pasta with a side of pasta, but it was all overshadowed by that awkward kiss and that’s all I can think of when I think of Burgos, Spain?
You know. That kind of stuff. For an hour. At least. This is quarantine at its best. Silver lining material that keeps on giving. Good grief. That awkward kiss. I laughed sporadically off and on during today’s walk.
My how times have changed… I remember in one of my first coronavirus posts commenting on how awkward it was to see people talking to one another while standing at least 6 feet apart. Today, seeing groups of people NOT giving each other the appropriate distancing, or NOT wearing masks, looks not only odd, but feels disrespectful and rather dangerous. We’ve shifted so much in such a relatively short amount of time. We are far more adaptable than we realize.
I had a special visitor stop by early this evening to share with me his excitement in seeing the Thunderbirds, to which he added, “I don’t know that word, Laurie, so I call them ships.” You can call them anything you want, sweet Arlo, and I will always listen with bated breath
These days of isolation and distant togetherness has made it a lot easier to find our soft spot… the things that make us cry, slump with overwhelming sadness, hear things we’ve never heard before, maybe because we forgot to listen, and find the beauty in the details. We are also discovering our limits, our frustrations, our edges and our most vulnerable selves and how we need to help that self while living in times of overwhelming uncertainty. Our soft spot right now is each other, from a distance, but closer than ever.
Keep the closeness, while maintaining distance. Stay at home. Stay safe.
A photo is worth 1,000 words. Here’s my collection that adds up to 10,000 unspoken words. They say more than I can.