A sense of being caught in a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from, washed over me when I first heard the news. The order to shelter in place was soon to be given. All non-essential stores were to close. There were to be no more church services until the pandemic was under control. I felt very alone, like a shipwrecked sailor on a deserted island. Luckily, I had something Robinson Crusoe didn’t; a telephone and computer.
Knowing that my daughter Tammie was working from home, I called her. Trying to sound cool and relaxed, I inquired, “How are you doing?” Her voice radiated stress as she answered, telling me about strange cars parking in front of her house on the quiet side street, sounds never noticed before and so many sirens from a nearby fire station screaming along on a street one block from her house as they rushed to their next emergency.
Concluding her litany of complaints, Tammie stated, “I have no appetite. I haven’t eaten anything all day.”
Concerned, I asked, “Have you gone out side for walks? You need fresh air and exercise to make you feel better.”
After a slight pause, Tammie questioned, “Mom, would it be alright with you if I came home for a little while? Since I work from home, I can be anywhere. I thought if you agree, I’ll slowly pack this week and drive home on the weekend. The loneliness of not going anywhere or seeing anyone for the last few weeks is getting to me.”
Without a moment of hesitation, I eagerly suggested, “Why wait until next weekend? Pack up now and drive home tomorrow! The order to shelter in place will soon be given.”
Relief was obvious in my daughter’s voice as she mentally shifted gears, “Okay Mom. I’ll do that. I’ll pack supplies tonight to supplement what you have at home.”
I had told my daughter that exercise would help make us feel better, so the following morning I decided to go for a walk. Looking forward to having my daughter home by nightfall, I planned to pick pussy willows for a typical spring decoration Tammie would enjoy. The place I knew where I’d find some was only about a quarter of a mile down the road.
A chilly wind tugged at my jacket. Patches of shrinking snow drifts dotted the ditches. Nothing was green yet. The landscape along the road was a study in browns and grays, except where a pileated woodpecker had made a heap of light tan wood chips next to an old dead tree.
Glancing over my shoulder I noticed another person out for exercise, a young man on a skateboard with a dog on a leash. They were approaching fast. In no time at all, they whizzed past. Although the man occasionally pushed his skateboard with one foot, it was obvious that his dog was providing over half their momentum.
The best pussy willow branches were on the top of the bush. Happy that the ditch where it grew was shallow, I reached up and pulled the slender branch down low enough to pick what I wanted.
Slowly walking back home with my spring harvest in one hand, I was deep in thought when suddenly the young man and the dog pulled up alongside me again. This time the dog became distracted and stopped to say hello. The young man lost his footing on the skateboard. It skittered in one direction as he took several running steps to keep his balance.
The dog was as big as a Labrador or a German shepherd, but his appearance made me chuckle. He appeared to be a composite of several different dogs. If he had been a car, he would have had 1950 era Ford fenders, a 1930 style hood and trunk from a Dodge and the fins of a 1959 Chevy. I asked, “What breed of dog is this?”
“He has a mixed heritage,” the young man explained before adding, “and is a very high energy dog.”
Getting back onto the skateboard, the dog jumped forward to begin pulling again. As they sped away, I called out, “You’re putting his energy to good use!”
Back home, I arranged my pussy willow branch with Easter decorations. Smiling, I thought, “I was right when I told Tammie that exercise makes a person feel better!”