We are entering my time of the year. My agricultural roots, deeply imbedded in the soil of the South Carolina low country, sharpen my anticipation of the harvest season. It is just that the rewards of all the work and worry of the spring planting and summer nurturing delivers it’s bounty in the season of shortened days, cool nights and vibrant colors. People who love the outdoors, also love the moderating weather that fall brings. Fall marks the beginning of the end of another year on planet earth. A year significantly impacted by a microscopic, colorful bug that refuses to walk a straight line.
Our world has become one of negotiating a rapidly shifting pattern of what is safe and what is not. We are forced to deal with uncertainty as to what is open and what is not, usually verifiable by actually stopping by and reading the door. Slowly, America is coming to terms with this opponent, the virus’s terms, not ours, and dealing with it on a personal level. The freedom to make our own decisions, often conflicting with the attempts by government to keep us safe from ourselves, has delivered a scene reminiscent of Sherman’s march to Atlanta. Instead of scorched earth, we have destroyed relationships, endured political viciousness, and hours of watching bad movies on the cable carriers. To replace fun trips into the retail world, we have a constant stream of FedEx and UPS trucks navigating our streets and neighborhoods. Thousands of good hard working folks are not working yet and we need legal counsel to help understand the policies of our educational institutions. We are conflicted in our spiritual world as well. Churches are feeling the impact of low attendance, and our tendency to rely on spiritual assistance has been replaced by governmental assistance. All courtesy of a little virus with sometimes deadly implications.
Yesterday, we stopped at a chicken house here in Springfield for an order to go. I was up, so on with the mask and into the store to pick up our chicken, taters and gravy I went. Hostility chilled the air at the counter. A family was having trouble keeping the kids on the social distancing spots and decided to wait outside. They viewed me with some degree of disdain, and you can’t smile your way out of tension through a black mask. A man came in to pick up his order, looked at me and suggested that I could dispense with the mask on November the 3d, as this whole thing was a “political hoax”. I wanted chicken not a political science class, and suggested cheerfully, “we’ll see”. I did not turn my back on this man, as there existed no trust between us.
If this virus could just stay on a straight line, we could plan our way around it and establish a new order of existence. It has not and we are forced to contend with the most formidable opponent you can engage, and that is one that adheres to no rules and thus confounds the brightest minds we have. All is not lost. We have sought out eateries that offer outdoor seating, learned the basics of smoking meats at home and are becoming rather clever at buying online. (Online shopping is an art….but that is a story for a later discourse.) There are hundreds of ways to social distance in the great outdoors and the virus, most agree, cannot catch an automobile at 70, a motorcycle at any speed or a bicycle at 10 MPH.
If the virus went away today, we have learned from it. We are adaptable and far more self sufficient than we thought might be the case in this age of modern convenience. So, on this foggy Sunday morning, grab a cup of coffee, seek a little spiritual solace and dwell on what we have gained rather than lost. Soon enough we’ll either beat it or rope it off….it is what we do in America. At the very least, our generation will have a story to tell, like those before us who talk off the Great Depression and dust bowl….that is if we are still recording history in the future.
Have a great week.