Category Archives: Strange Days

An Island

Three Oil Lamps

It seems to me more and more that our home has become an island. Set back from the street and bordered by an empty field near an elementary school, it feels like we are far removed from the comings and goings of the world. In The After Times, this isn’t a bad feeling. It can be a bit eery, but it’s not “bad”.

When we first moved here, we were going from a county that was a COVID hot-spot to a state that had fewer cases than said county. It wasn’t planned. No, it was another in a long line of situations where it was better to be lucky than smart. Because a smart person wouldn’t have made the move the way we did, when we did.

My wife does an amazing job of making our house feel cozy. I tease her from time to time about reading all of her decorating blogs, but in truth, she has amazing taste and a way of making every room in the house feel like it’s exactly where you want to be. It’s brilliant.

Sitting in our house and listening to the quiet, which is quite a change from the old place, allows me to feel gratitude. These are strange times and we’re all isolated in some way. But the island isn’t the worst place to be.

Preparing

A GPS, a 2 Way Radio, a Map, a Bandana, and a Knife

A thing that we do as humans is think about the future. Sometimes, it’s a simple as a daydream about a hike or a trip to the lake to fish. We do have a tendency to go long and think about where we’d like to be in 5 years. In The After Times, it’s hard to see 2 or 3 weeks ahead, forget about 6 months.

But planning and dreaming are important. So I assemble bits and pieces for trips to the parks. I put together lists of things that we should carry with us to be prepared for our little adventures. We’re not usually out very long with having a puppy at home and two kids that run themselves out after a few hours, so this isn’t like an expedition to Antarctica, but it’s something to consider for any trip out. Scouts are prepared, right?

Yet in my mind, these are grand adventures. I think about taking my radio out to an island on the reservoir and making contacts. I imagine catching large fish early in the morning and snapping a few pictures. I drift to lunching on the shore before paddling back for the day. Again, quiet time on the water.

Is that what we’re all doing right now? Baking bread and adopting puppies so that we can give ourselves a future? Having things around that provide us with a sense that we will have something to do that is different or important tomorrow seems to be a zeitgeist of a sort.

We all need a long game. So we’re making them ourselves.

Quiet Water

The view over the bow of a kayak.

It is very difficult to think negative or hopeless thoughts while paddling on a body of water on a calm, sunny day. Perhaps, that body of water is nothing more than a reservoir frequented by anglers and paddlers. It’s usually quiet. There are birds here and there. Hopefully, there are fish that pop up once in a while. Maybe the boat drifts over some thick vegetation or catches on an unseen piece of wood. They sky can be blue or grey. It hardly matters on green water.

Listening to the sound of the paddle passing through the water is beautiful and serene. It allows for deep breaths and for the mind to drift from thought to thought like the clouds overhead. It forces a sense of the moment. After all, what is more important in that moment than maintaining balance and motion? Very little. Strange that all it takes is the thought of falling into perfectly safe fresh water to clear the mind of all else.

I know that not everyone is finding these things, but I do see so many more people at the parks than I have in years past. More on bicycles. Renting canoes. Hiking on trails. Moving through all of that green and blue simply to have some fresh air in the lungs and the relief of not seeing the same walls day after day. Perhaps we can keep that as a part of The New Normal.

Lantern

A restored railroad lantern.

Strange odds and ends live on my shelves. One of the many reasons I don’t turn on video for the myriad of meetings I’m in all day long. I look at some of them and they make me think. Sometimes I think too much. These days, we all think too much. Or far too little. It’s a time of extremes.

In any case, the railroad lantern fascinates me. The lenses work very well and when it’s lit, it is fun to have in the room. It’s a reminder of all of the progress made and the pieces of tech developed out of necessity. And, of course, how that fades over time. So many clever inventions are deprecated and lost.

With the current seismic shift within our culture, how many things will become railroad lanterns?

Water

We’re awash in dogs right now as we adapt to the new puppy and have taken on dog-sitting for my brother for a week. It’s a crazy time, so Nacho – aka MY dog – and I are holed up in the office for the day. It’s what we do every day, but it feels more like hiding now.

This weekend, we went to a reservoir and put in some boats. A double kayak for the ladies of the family, an inflatable for the boy, and my new fishing kayak for me. I can’t say enough good things about my new boat. It was stable, agile, fast, and fun. Is there another adjective I would add? Not today.

We paddled around as the rather impolite motorcraft buzzed the no wake zone and the jetski crowd terrorized other kayakers. We won’t be returning there anytime soon but will instead head off to the body of water nearby that doesn’t allow motors. We can paddle and fish in relative peace there.

Paddling felt good. Being out in the sun felt good. It was restorative to all of us. It was a reminder that there was still something outside of our home compound for us to do. We will do more of it because we can.

Like plastic exposed to the UV of the sun for far too long, people are starting to crack. The stress and strain of trying to get through the day and navigate the world on its new terms is showing across the board. Those who would put their heads in the sand and scream about going back to the way things were are not making the process move any faster. In fact, as is their general wont, they are impeding progress to a solution.

Summer is past its halfway point. It will be autumn before we know it and those of us who signed up for it will be trying our best to get our children educated over the computer. Real people will be forced to make difficult decisions based on very little access to data and in the middle of a field of fear generated for profit and power. The consequences are so very real.

What does one do?

If one has the privilege, one goes to the park and fishes. Or sits outside with a book and tries to forget for a bit.

Everyone’s to do list should include unplugging. The internet isn’t helping.