I am probably not alone in feeling that the last few weeks have been wearying. The limiting measures designed for limiting the virus stalking us plus an unseasonably cool spring have dissolved into frustration and finger pointing of late. Sensing life remains in limbo, my mind has been leapfrogging all over the place.
This new phase of randomness, however, has arrived with a surprising benefit: ever-more frequent sightings of the sun breaking through the clouds or the light at the end of the tunnel or… I will leave the choice of clichés up to my readers. But I find it refreshing that for several days in a row there has been some fact or idea, pandemic-related or not, that I have been able to latch onto to give my poor brain respite.
Day 1: Amber Hillman’s Facebook photos of a local bald eagle nest reminded me of Governor DeWine’s mention of a wildlife success story also carried by the UDC. It has been positively positive to learn that a species endangered in 1979 with just four nesting pairs in the state now lives in 707 nests all across Ohio. Even better: wildlife experts, zoo employees, sports enthusiasts, and concerned landowners collaborated for the nest count of what the governor describes as the “symbol of American strength and resilience.” We humans must remain carefully vigilant, however; bald eagles have their own version of social distancing. We should remain at least 100 yards from their nests so as to discourage abandonment by the nesting pairs.
Day 2: There is another shortage at the supermarket: dry yeast. As far-fetched as that news seems, several people have reported that shelves usually stocked with those tiny packets are bare. Turns out that the yeast industry’s annual peak during the holiday baking of November and December is followed by a traditional lull in the first quarter of the year. Our sheltering has brought about renewed interest in bread making, and manufacturers have yet to catch up. I did see a recipe for beer bread – no yeast required. My kind of recipe, too, with just four ingredients. But somehow I cannot quite conjure up the image of a grocery store trip during the elderly hours with my face covered to buy a bottle of beer…
Day 3: Watching reruns has become a habit, with The Waltons my latest TV classic of choice. I also saw one of their reunion shows during which the children reminisced that Will Geer, the grandfather, was also a botanist. As a youngster he learned the Latin names for all plants native to Indiana and eventually earned a master’s degree in botany. Early on, Geer was a labor activist which led to his membership in the Communist Party which led to his blacklisting during the McCarthy era. He spent his several jobless years by founding an open-air repertory theater for young actors and fellow blacklisted thespians. And on the grounds of that theater, he grew every plant ever mentioned in any Shakespeare play. Way to go, Grandpa!
Day 4: In the grand tradition of the Scott girls in the 1950’s “playing house” in the living room and “playing county fair” on the front porch, my great-niece decided to “play water park” beside her slightly-inclined driveway. It was her own idea to construct an obstacle course/slide on the grass – and then to put it into action. She used her self-chosen, appropriately-spaced items to propel herself to the bottom of the slant, big sister collecting the various modes of transportation behind her. Her creativity reminded me that the inconvenience of spending the last quarter of school at home has also provided many opportunities for the art of natural learning, dismissed from our official classrooms by the stifling, mandated testing program dreamed up by legislators. Learning should be joyous, as this five-year-old inventor so clearly demonstrated.
Day 5: When I decided to send birthday flowers to Ingrid in Germany, it was the first day back from the local florist’s temporary closing. The gal on the phone sounded harried, what with the steady stream of Mother’s Day orders she was fielding. However, she patiently recorded my wishes – including, of course, Ingrid’s address. Shortly after spelling Ingrid’s name, city, and the street name consisting of no fewer than fifteen letters, I took pity on the lovely lady by not spelling out Herzlichen Gluckwünsch zum Geburtstag: I knew Ingrid would be just as pleased with Happy Birthday in English. I was advised, however, that regardless of my chosen arrangement, it would be the German florist’s choice – availability of specific flowers could not be guaranteed over there, or even over here in certain markets.
Day 6: Now I have two recommendations available on YouTube. The first is a poem that has been making the rounds on Facebook: “And the People Stayed Home” by Kitty O’Meara. Typing the name of the poem in the YouTube search box will yield any number of videos. Typing and the people stayed home – Carmel Kelly brings up my favorite version that includes the poem on the screen accompanied by background music. The second recommendation is another poem, “The Great Realisation.” Typing the title in the YouTube search box will bring up several identical presentations: a young father reading a bedtime story about the realization that “hindsight is 2020.” Both poems are impactful…and healing.
Here’s hoping and wishing for another random week, even more glimmerly-hopeful…
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.