Monday, March 16, 2020


Today is the eve of Sheltering in Place for at least three weeks here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although, as of midnight tonight, we are ordered to stay in our homes except to access essential services, we will be officially allowed to go on walks or hikes outdoors as long as we stay 6 feet away from humans who are not in our household. Thank you policymakers for this sanity-saving detail! And, of course, thank you for acting sooner rather than later. This will literally save lives.

Things have changed so quickly over the last few days. Much of my (former?) life/world has been abruptly stripped away, yet, at the same time so much remains. I can't gather in a venue to make music with my friends, but I can listen to music from all over the world online. I can't attend a workshop in Europe, but I can Skype with loved ones there. Increasingly the options that remain are disembodied, remote, heavily mediated. Things that can still be done in person are now imbued with a rawness and intensity that wasn't there before. It's like when I eat dinner on a backpacking trip and cheap macaroni and cheese with a cup of hot cocoa becomes a gourmet banquet. Now, a walk in the park is a precious gift, a treasured opportunity not to be passed up.

In case things change again, I thought I'd better not wait. Carpe diem!

A highlight of today's human-avoiding perambulations was a visit to the End-of the-Log Fairy House in Golden Gate Park. This particular fairy house came to my attention some time ago (a year?) and is a favorite detail on my usual walk to and around Stow Lake. The first time I stumbled upon it I delighted in my "discovery" of the well-crafted, micro hobbit door, behind which a few tiny shiny trinkets were stashed, things a raven might collect. Over time I've enjoyed seeing how the contents change. It's the Toy Surprise of my regular-route walk. One warm day I even found a chilled can of fancy beer inside! It was an I.P.A. Since I only like dark beers, I left it for whoever came along next, but its presence there made me giggle.

Today there were lots of goodies inside, but I didn't have any rubber gloves or hand sanitizer with me so I decided not to take them out for a closer look. I'm OK with that. It's fun to imagine their particulars. Here's a peak:

I used a eucalyptus leaf on the doorknob so as not to touch it directly with my fingers, then I didn't touch my face until I got home and washed my hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Kids, don't try this at home!

Earlier in the day I had another doorway experience. After first hearing of our impending Shelter-in-Place-ness, I worried that my local laundromat might be shutting down and I'd end up having to wash all my clothes by hand for who knows how long (turns out laundromats are considered essential businesses and shall remain open). Thinking I might need to do my washing ASAP, I rambled over to scope out how busy the place was. Yes, now we have to worry about getting too close to strangers when washing our clothes. Oh dear. There were a fair number of people inside so I decided I would try again another time.

On my way home, the strange sight of a 20-something woman in ballet toe shoes (I think) doing releves while balanced against the opened back hatch of a car caught my eye. As I walked closer, she went back to standing normally, then grabbed a couple of full grocery bags and carried them up the stairs of the building she was parked in front of. An elderly person stood in the doorway. Scraps of overheard conversation revealed that she and her friend had volunteered to help out this senior-in-need who they had never met before. It is good to see strangers come together in the face of great uncertainty. Sometimes humanity wins.


  1. Thank you for sharing the wonderful captured moments, I esp. relate to the camping and perspective shift in food and love the analogy as it relates to now. And OMG I must go see the Fairy House next time I'm in SF. I didn't know! Sheila and I went on dogwalk, and I just got done working for about 3 hours on a picture book. healthy hugs from here in DE

  2. I would love to be your Fairy House tour guide!