Saturday, March 14, 2020

Walk in the Rain

Today was my third day of social distancing here in San Francisco during the COVID-19 pandemic and I went for a walk in Golden Gate park in the rain, while trying to keep at least 6 feet away from other people at all times.

Even though the weather wasn't great, there were still a few folks out and about, mostly runners and parents with small children. I tried to route myself onto paths less travelled, but still my walk occasionally intersected with other humans. I didn't want to come off as rude, so I felt obligated to improvise creative "reasons" for abruptly moving away from people or standing on the side of a trail in an unremarkable spot. At first these sudden reroutings felt awkward and contrived: "I'm veering off the path to check out this pile of sticks!" "Oh look, ragged flowers in the shrubbery!" "I'm very interested in this empty dock where no ducks are hanging out!" But, after I while, I began to enjoy how these spontaneous diversions led me to places and details in the park that I would never have encountered otherwise.

Under the eucalyptus trees near Stow Lake the birds were chatty and lively. Since the urban traffic and airplane noise was diminished, their voices rang out clearer than usual. Next time I will bring a field recorder.

A tree at the edge of the "forest" with roots of folded elephant skin seemed to promise entry into some other realm.

Flashes of late-afternoon sun illuminated the island for a few moments as strange-looking geese tottered up to me hoping for a handout.

Who placed these tennis balls in this tree and what do they mean?!

Sunset approaches and aromas of freshly-washed green accompany the evening light show. This is a special treat for me. I'm usually working at this time of day.

These are crazy, challenging times. I am worried and afraid for myself, my loved ones, for all of us. Yesterday I ventured out of my apartment to stock up on some essentials at my small neighborhood grocery store and was freaked out about getting too close to other shoppers or the workers there. As the owner of the shop, who I've seen for over two decades but never really had a conversation with, rang up my purchases he said to me, "We'll get through this." It was a small thing, but after days of anxiousness those kind words helped me actually get some sleep last night. 

I want to use this blog to share other such small things: glimmers of good stuff that we still have even though many of our lives have been abruptly upended; bits and pieces of joy, beauty, and hope; the small things that will help get us through the days to come. 

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