Until life returns to some semblance of normal, from time to time we will send out the Corona Chronicles. This publication will provide commentary, brief stories, poetry, book and movie suggestions, and ways to make our time at home meaningful and fulfilling. If you have ideas to submit, please contact Nancy Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, Spring has arrived and the long days of sheltering in place are brightened by the return of the green world.
When we sent out the first Corona Chronicles we were pleased with the feedback from many of you saying that you enjoyed receiving it, and hoped we would continue compiling pieces from Senior College members. We are happy to forward the second edition with poems and articles about your life in this strange and unique period. We welcome your observations, suggestions and reviews of books, movies, special online sites, interesting recipes, and ways you have kept busy.
Now sit back and enjoy the contributions of fellow members!
For those of us who find a good novel the best antidote to news about a lethal virus and the incompetent efforts of politicians, what better than a 20st century version of a fairy tale to keep us company as we socially distance?
Ann Patchett’s “The Dutch House,” published in late 2019, certainly has most of the elements—the children, Maeve and Danny, essentially being brought up by kindly servants; an indifferent, taciturn father whose sudden post-war wealth spurred him to buy an unusual, beautiful house (The Dutch House) in a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia; a mother for whom the house purchase was representative of a lifestyle she found increasingly antithetical, who abandoned the family as a result; and a cruel stepmother who comes replete with the requisite stepsisters for Danny and Maeve.
Danny narrates this multi-generational tale of family love and anguish; the effects of parental neglect, indifference and abandonment, not to mention greed and cruelty, played out on many levels. But compassion and empathy can be nurtured by most unlikely sources, and love is generative, as Maeve and Danny demonstrate as the tale proceeds through years of their careers, his marriage and a new generation, often comparing notes while sharing a cigarette parked in front of the magnificent house that has not been their home since they were teenagers.
In the end “The Dutch House” is not a fairy tale; the stepsisters are victims, too; everyone does not live happily ever after. But Ann Patchett gives us a beautifully written, intricately constructed novel, and an unforgettable portrait of children as silent, seemingly resilient observers of an unfathomable adult world, and how love, dependable and hands-on, experienced from an early age, makes all the difference.
For an outstanding and timely read, try Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks, 2002. It is an historical fiction about the real-life events of the village of Eyam, England, that sacrificed itself to save the nation during the plague of 1666. Available on Kindle.
In appreciation of Frank Bruni
As a fan of Frank Bruni’s articles in the New York Times I recently enjoyed his column in which he stated that boredom is the least of peoples’ worries now – that it is a privilege. Since I rarely suffer from boredom, but live with others who do, I conclude that “being bored” is a privilege with the added behavioral symptoms of frustration, whining, and the occasional outburst due to that frustration.
How not to be bored? Well, if you were a kid, and I know you were, and you grew up in the country or a small village, you learned how to handle those times when others would say “there is nothing to do.” You can work outside in your garden or sit and watch what goes on in your bit of the world. If you live in town, the front porch used to be part of community life, where you called out to passers-by and chatted. The front porch is a nice place to people watch and also to view yards and gardens of neighbors or your own, and you can social distance quite easily from there.
You can take walks and not meet another person but if you do, keep your mask handy. Look at the clouds and see those amazing animals and creations that you did as a kid. Feel the breeze on your skin and smell the freshness of the air around you. Note the grasses growing and the wild flowers blooming. Are trees beginning to leaf out? Observe the small lives around you that are unencumbered by boredom and busy with their daily routines. Recently, I’ve seen turtles crossing the road, turkeys in the fields, or even flying across the road like ancient winged dinosaurs. Frogs abound in the bog on Waning Road and muskrats ply their way through those waters as well. Ducks are spending time on the bog, and even on our pond. None of your activity has to have any profound reasoning behind it, just exist in that moment as other animals do.
Now that it is spring there are bumble bees, butterflies, and insects of various sorts, happily buzzing and flying about their business, lighting here and there. The water bugs make small waves as they skitter on the water of our pond. We think excitedly that they may be pollywogs. But no, they are still just water bugs. In the evening we listen to the tree and wood frogs singing in the trees. The night sky has had some beautiful clouds against a lovely deep, dark blue background with their hazy veils drifting over the moon.
When you want to be inside, you can read the books you’ve always planned to read; sketch; paint; sew; scrapbook; knit; bake; watch interesting television; play cards, board games, Scrabble or Boggle; do jigsaw puzzles; talk to friends and family on the phone, zoom or skype; write notes to friends; organize and scan your photos and albums; take free college courses online; play pool; go out in the yard and throw a ball around with your partner or shoot hoops by yourself; put up the badminton net or set out the croquet wickets; enjoy the life you have now.
It is actually a relief to not feel compelled to go places and do things via automobile. As a creature of the natural world, it is a pleasure to be quiet within it. Bored? Not at all in my world.
Here’s a Hug
We’re all staying in our homes…
We use computers and our phones,
To ‘Face-time’, email, send a text,
As we wonder what is coming next!
We care for plants and clean the house,
Take long walks with pets or spouse,
Wash the cars and rake the yard…
Staying busy isn’t hard!
But it’s not the list of things to do
That makes us discontent or blue…
It’s just that when the job list ends
We need connection with our friends!
‘Social distance’ tops the rules
Of our behavior! All the schools,
The restaurants, stores and every gym…
Are closed—it’s NOT on just a whim—
There’s no art class or pickleball
No birding field trips…none at all!
No movies, lectures, eating out…
No card games, nothing…there’s no doubt
That we must distance to survive…
To keep our loved ones safe, alive!
So hunker down for a longer while…
But here’s a hug to make you smile!