Sheltering in Place

It has been a while since I last posted. Covid-19 has settled in to our country and like others we are “safer at home” or were until our mayor updated our status to “shelter in place.” It has been a journey.

In late February, early March I slowly began filling the freezer with meats, vegetables and our favorite coffee. John thought I was nuts but I just nodded and kept buying. Unfortunately I did not think through toilet paper and antibacterial wipes until it was too late. I had some chats with our local Publix employees and discovered the tp delivery schedule. For several weeks I set an extra early alarm on a designated delivery day to arrive before the tp and wipes were sold out. I never had to wait in line.

Beginning mid March, our neighborhood set up a series of window scavenger hunts for the kids. So far we have had banana, umbrella, W, hands and pac man days. I hung with them till the zoo animals started then burned out and dropped out. I jumped back in at Easter with hand painted paper eggs. This was not part of the neighborhood list but what I wanted to do.

Pac man day!

Many of our neighbors are outside throughout the day but scattered and no one seems to be getting too close to each other, just a friendly wave and a shouted hello. Our neighborhood book club held a zoom meeting in April and will do the same in May. We are reading “And Then There Were None,” by Agatha Christie. Restaurant deliveries have been added to the evening activities with several popular downtown restaurants/breweries parking at a designated neighborhood location on a designated day. Those who placed and paid on-line for orders, practice social distancing as the orders are handed out. This activity has been well supported by the neighborhood. John and I have participated a couple of times, a beer or two may have been included on our orders.

In mid-March the University of Tennessee closed. John continued to go in for another week or so but came home early everyday, fretting about a grad student or two that exhibited Covid symptoms (one tested positive, one negative). He finally pulled together a multi-computer – TV set up in an upstairs room where he can work with his microscopes remotely and help a few remaining grad students via phone or on line. The dog is glad he is home. We now call her the “upstairs” dog as she hangs out with him all day. I have had to do a little adjusting but am glad he is home too.

On March 24th, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park closed roads, trails and all services. The week before closing, 30,000 people from all over the country thought it was a good idea to show up EACH day in the park to hike and look at the wildflowers. While it may be an understandable decision on an individual basis, collectively not so good. Most visitors who go to the park go to the same places, Cades Cove, Laurel Falls Trail, Abrams Falls and Alum Cave. Social distancing, I don’t think so. The Park Service quickly decided that to keep their employees, not to mention the park guests safe, shuttering the park for 2 weeks was a necessity. The closure continued on, the park is now scheduled to reopen on May 9th.

Spring has pretty much come and gone in the garden even though we are going through the last of the spring series of Red Bud, Dogwood and Blackberry winters. Seems like we have had more rain than I remember in recent years and more high winds, but maybe I am just more aware this year.

Variegated Solomon Seal
Lenten Roses
Yard violets. Violets were my first and always favorite flower. I have trouble pulling them out of the garden. so usually I don’t.

As the weeks went on we slipped into a nice routine, dinner at lunch, lunch at dinner, many enjoyed al fresco on the veranda. The sun rose, the sun set and days went by quickly as we lived in a bubble. We worked in the yard, in the house and I looked forward to morning runs and sunset walks.

Sunrise through the kitchen window
Sunset from our backyard
Sunset walk with Katie
Sunset over the Tennessee River
This happened to me in early March, I have thoroughly enjoyed it!
I have spent much too much time going up and down this flight of 15 steps.
This has been my counter because I realized around 600 steps that this is incredibly boring, my mind gets distracted and I loose count. As of this week I hit 2100 steps up in a single effort (and 2100 steps down). My legs are getting noticeably stronger but this is worse than a treadmill.

My running has improved significantly. I am hitting times I could only hope for a few months ago (still very slow mind you). I ran over 74 miles in April, my highest mileage for a while. I have enjoyed the mornings out by myself. Improvement is very motivating.

Post run with a dogwood as my backdrop. The dogwoods are out of bloom now.
Running on the local greenway system
My car got washed a couple of times due to pollen but I have only filled it with gas once.

As of today, the governor has mostly reopened the state. Although Knoxville openings are regulated by the County Health Department, most things including retail, hair salons, restaurants and such have opened with distancing guidelines. My phone has been ringing with offices wanting to set up appointments-personal trainer, hair (I have decided to try a new color, my own…gray), eye doctor, massage therapist and so on and so on.

Honestly, I am not looking forward to “getting back to normal.” I have enjoyed my days uninterrupted by obligations. With uncluttered time, I focus on fitness and health. Money saved by not stopping here and there to shop has disappeared into a travel account and I have been happily planning a few adventures for 2021. While very frightening, sheltering at home against Covid-19 has offered me a glimpse into a different lifestyle, one I think I am going to try to hold onto for just a little longer.

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