Thursday, April 9, 2020

A Sunny Day Walk!

When I get a good day, I max it out! So, off I venture into my roaming space. I've shown you this before -- it's not to scale, of course, but you can see my roaming space is about eight blocks to the Ditch and around.

These photos were taken on two or three different walks over the past few days. Got your mask? Let's go!

There's lots of early spring action. On this visit, I saw a whole flock of cedar waxwings (correct me if I'm wrong, bird fans!) in hog heaven at this bush of bright red berries.

It was hard to focus on them between the branches and they were pretty flighty -- eat and run! But so pretty. They weren't the only bird in the area, either. This pretty cardinal was flitting around...

...and there were loads of robins.

This red-winged blackbird is for David -- singing his song! (I finally got one with decent light!)

There were more than a few ducks, some dining....

...others just sunning themselves.

The geese were on patrol, watching out for their mates and taking on any bird that came near.

I saw a few grackles and a lovely mourning dove.

I'm not sure what this is. At first I thought it might be another waxwing but it has a pretty yellow tail.

I wasn't the only one out. On my first two rides I saw cyclists...

... lots of walkers, people on the benches and even someone who brought their own hammock.

That was too many people for me, so I changed my walking time to earlier, hoping for less people. I did see a few, including my neighbor Pat, with his Jack Russell, Annie.

I used to have a Jack that looked just like Annie so she's my favorite dog!

The greatest gift is when I happen to catch glimpse of a deer. Look on the far shore. Do you see her?

She was completely at ease with her various bird friends and they were relaxed with her.

One of the few times she looked up was when a Fed-ex truck went by.

She was beautiful.

But should you think it's all calm at the Ditch, think again. Apparently one duck must have come too close to another's nest for there was quite a kerfuffle as her mate chased him off.

Rounding the bend and off for home.

Signs of spring. (Although today the temperature dropped, it's sleeting and raining. This, too, will pass.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Social Distancing

Orson Welles had it down long before the term "social distancing" evolved.

This scene in "Citizen Kane" is part of a trajectory that shows first the younger, happier Kanes sitting close beside each other at the table. Their marriage has evolved to this.

We're all learning a little bit about Social Distancing (or spatial distancing, as I like to call it) these days. I'm talking with my neighbor from across the street. We are farther apart than six feet -- and that's just fine with us.  If I go for a walk, I take care to keep that distance with others. My roaming zone stretches from my house to the Ditch.

On the way, I may see other walkers, a cyclist, children with their parents headed toward the playground, the occasional wandering cat and especially dog walkers.  Rick makes his weekly visit to Apple Market, a few blocks from his house, for our groceries. But we are all respectful of space.

Even the birds at the Ditch seem to have received the message!

I suspect Skippy the Chipmunk is glad that Lizzie is keeping distance between them (through no desire of her own!).

Even Rick and I must keep apart and that's really hard! We are beginning to look like the Kanes! The difference? We still love and like each other. The Kanes? Not so much!

So, here's to staying apart so we can soon all be together! Stay well and stay home!

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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Our Anne Frank Moment

How are you enjoying "life inside"? Are you coping with shortages of toilet paper, cleaning products or your favorite food? Have you managed to find your own space within your home to do work, educate your children or just get away for a bit? Have you had more than a few temper flare-ups, sibling rivalries or tearful moments? Have you been imagining days past, remembering (or anticipating) lovely vacations somewhere far away from home?

Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is the building to the right of the one with the pointed roof.

Are you or someone in your family journaling your experiences, either online or on paper?

Anne Frank's Diary

At times like this, it's useful to remember that we weren't the first who had to go into "hiding." And by comparison, we have it pretty good.

A dear friend who long ago directed me in "Diary of Anne Frank" sent this wonderful Life special edition that is currently on news stands about the young woman whose diary influenced generations beyond her.

In 2009, when Rick and I first went to Europe, we were fortunate to be able to tour the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. It left an indelible impression, partly because I'd been inspired by her story since it was required reading in junior high and partly because how could one not be affected?

I wrote about it HERE and if you're interested, you can check out the original post.

Margot, Otto, Anne and Edith Frank, shortly before going into hiding.

The story of Anne Frank and her family and fellow hiding residents is instructive in these days of social distance for many of us. It certainly resonates for me. Apart from Rick, I really am not seeing people. Unless I'm taking a walk or in my yard, I am inside. (I should also add that this isn't much of a hardship for me and not that much unlike my life before quarantine.) Last night we had our first Zoom Virtual Happy Hour. It felt good to "see" other people, even though most of our conversation was about CV19.

But when I think back to the Anne Frank House, I remember the differences they faced. First of all, there were eight people in a very few rooms. No one, apart from young Peter, had their own private space. Each sleeping space was shared by at least one other person.

A re-creation of the room Anne shared with the dentist, known in the book as Mr. Dussell.

While I know many families may be in small homes or apartments, there are also many of us who are isolated are in a home where we will have our own spot to go if we need to be alone. We are used to adjustable heat or if it's hot, air conditioning. They couldn't open a window, no matter how hot it was. And the heat was not adequate in the cold Netherlands winter.

A model of the Anne Frank House -- warehouse on the left, upper floors on the right were where Anne and her family hid.

And of course, they couldn't go for a walk or a bicycle ride, our out to rake leaves and get the garden ready for spring. Anne's closest look to the outside was a window in the attic of the building in which they were hidden.

This was Anne's only window to the world.

They had little food. Moments in the diary recall their having only a few potatoes to share amongst the eight of them. Bread could be scarce, as could meat. In a rare moment of festivities, Miep, their caretaker, saved ration cards to make them a very small cake. What would they think of supermarket wars over a package of toilet paper?

Their entertainment was restricted to books and puzzles. For one Hanukkah gift, Anne erased the answers from her sister's crossword puzzle book so she could do them again. What would they think of cable, 24 hour streaming, books online or on tablets?

The entry to Anne's hiding place was behind this book case on the upper floors of an office building.

Communication? They relied on an unpredictable wireless but by and large their window to the world was wrapped up in the visits of the people who put their lives on the line to bring them food or updates on the war. There was no 24-hour news cycle or online newspapers.

They had to be absolutely still during the hours workers were in the building, below them. They couldn't use the bathroom and even a cough could bring the Gestapo.

The consequences of "breaking the rules" for Anne and her family? A brutal death, if not instantly, then through the excruciating brutality of the concentration camps, in which all but her father died.

Anne's room; the faded photos she collected of film stars remain.

I hope this is as close to an Anne Frank moment as we will ever get. They were targets to something known -- discovery by the Nazis. We are targets to something about which we know but cannot be seen, the virus. In its own way it is as dangerous. As a simple cough could lead to Anne's death, that same simple cough could lead to ours. The virus can, it has and it will continue to kill thousands of people in the next weeks. It does not discriminate, as the Nazis did. Good men, women and children are dying and so are the bad, regardless of age, race, gender or ethnicity.

And like Anne's family, there are the helpers. Those who are staffing the medical units, the grocery store and warehouse workers, truck drivers, pharmacists, journalists, restaurant delivery/take-out providers, utilities workers who are working on the infrastructure. There are the volunteers at food banks and those who brave the grocery store to get food for their family, neighbors and friends. Scientists are in their labs, working hard to create vaccines. Last night a friend picked up their groceries at curbside from one of the large Meijer stores here. The young woman who did their shopping -- who put her life on the line so they could have food -- was working without gloves, masks or wipes provided by the store. They gave her the half-bottle of hand sanitizer they had in their car. She cried.

People like this -- who go on the front lines for us -- represent the best of us.

Mr. Frank's office colleagues provided food and shelter to the Franks and their friends for more than two years.

But we can be our best too. We can protect ourselves and others by staying home. Washing hands. Sterilizing our spaces. We can watch movies on Netflix, read books, engage in video games, blogging, Zoom chats with family and friends.  The kids can keep up with lessons online and if they're antsy can get out for a walk or play in the yard.

We probably have enough food to eat. Granted, it may not be exactly the food we want that night, we might be missing an ingredient to make a favorite dish. But we can eat. (At least, many of us can. There is a significant portion of the population that relies on food banks, which are running out of food.)

But that is "some of us." For others, challenges will multiply. Because of the massive unemployment, until some form of stimulus arrives, there will be many hungry families. Rents will be due with no money to pay. Crime will probably rise in many areas because of financial desperation. We have a global society that will be experiencing unprecedented collective grief as friends and loved ones die.

We all know that isolation can be challenging. We know that people are dying, and within a month or so, at least one person we know directly or one degree removed will either contract the virus or die. We are anxious. We may have bad dreams that wake us. (Well, I am, anyway.)

We have limited tools with which we can fight. Soap. Hand sanitizer. Our own ability to keep a safe distance. Staying home.

Anne could hear the bells from this nearby church.

But we also have better tools to cope with it than ever before. Things that can help staying home easier than ever before. And if we stay home now, then one day we can be out again amongst many people, traveling the world if we wish.

Amsterdam. No hiding. No spatial distance required.

This is our Anne Frank moment. Please Stay Home. And Stay Well.

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Friday, April 3, 2020

A Gloomy Day at the Ditch - But I'm Outside!

Just a short walk to the Ditch today. To be honest, since I took these photos on March 24 and March 28, it's a little more green and a bit more lively.

But the red-wing blackbirds are back. They probably have been for a bit and I just haven't seen them. People who follow birds more carefully than I say that these are really the first sign of spring.

And of course, robins are plentiful!

This is the large pond.

If you look to the right you'll see a spot where it juts out. A little closer -- do you see what I see?

I think this Canada goose (actually, there are two there, you can only see one) may be nesting.

 You can see the rump of the other one better here.

Those were from the earlier walk. On the 28th I returned again and saw this handsome fellow -- all black with a gorgeous blue head.

At first I thought it was a trick of the light, except there really wasn't any. As I got closer I could see his head was a gorgeous royal blue. Would any of my favorite bird bloggers be able to identify this one? I couldn't find him in my bird book. My facebook friends think it's a grackle.

There were loads of dog walkers and joggers, but all keeping distance. I realized, though, when I ran into a friend I'd not seen in at least a year, maybe longer, that the initial instinct was to hug each other. Instead, we stood a good eight or ten feet apart, on either side of the paved path so others could pass. It felt very odd.

My neighborhood is under a flight path to our local airport. There isn't a huge amount of traffic and they still fly relatively high where I am. We are aware of their passing but it's not close enough to be annoying. But every day it seems quieter, reminding me of 9/11, when there were no planes in the sky.

On one of the small ponds, we find another Canada geese duo -- if you look to the right, I think there's another nest there.

Maybe soon we'll see this (from last year!)

I hope so!

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