March 16, 2020
Life is a verb—the title of a book by Patti Digh—is an appropriate descriptive for these strange times. Nouns just sit there on the page, hang in the air. Verbs are dynamic, you never know what they are going to do next, how an unexpected one will change the trajectory of the story you thought you had figured out right through to the end.
Covid-19. If you diagrammed the sentence it would probably be the subject noun; but it’s acting more like a verb. How to deal with it changes every day, and it has changed the trajectory of our lives, at least for the time being. It will probably have ramifications for a long time to come—though eventually we will stop knowing that, it will just be life as usual again, though different. Maybe better. It will show up in history books, novels, and movies. It’s our world war.
On my way to the trailhead yesterday my phone pinged in two more Airbnb cancellations. One was from a couple getting married in Centralia at the end of the month, spending their wedding night at Three of Earth Farm. I’m sad for them. Another came in during the night, and one this morning—a cancelled Celebration of Life. That’s 11 cancels. Every loss of a reservation for me means cancelled plans for someone else.
My third grandson Elliot in Seattle is missing weeks—maybe the rest?—of his kindergarten year. My oldest grandson Max had made the middle school baseball team in North Carolina and who knows what will happen with his season. I’m sad for them.
You can count more on the fickle weather forecast these days than you can on the social outlook. My cafe where I usually type blog posts is closed. Yoga, after the cafe, closed. But the forecast this week is for sun. So far.
After the snow on Saturday, Monday was looking like a great day to socially distance on a trail.
I spent the snow day looking for a trail not too far away and snow free. There aren’t many options in the middle of March, but I settle on the Skokomish River Trail on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula.
The espresso kiosk is open and I’m off. I won’t tell you how I missed the road after Shelton because I had in mind an also ran that was farther north up Hwy 101, way farther. It’s embarrassing. Let’s just say I am later to the trailhead than I expeedct to be. The good news is it’s warmer and I don’t need to put my leggings on.
The trailhead is about 15 miles from Hwy 101 (turn off is five miles north of Shelton, not 50). After leaving the farmland it heads up into logging country. The clearcuts do leave open views, I will say that for them. (And, btw, logging is not off limits during these restrictive times; I met many log loads on 101).
There are six cars in the lot when I finally arrive, and more hikers than there would normally have been on a Monday. Other than one party of three, they are all far younger than I. I meet nine parties, including two of them twice. Two young women carrying aluminum lawn-concert chairs on their backs are probably on an unscheduled hiatus from college hoping to isolate together next to the river, in the story I make up for them. Although this is a river trail, the river is rarely seen or even heard, and never does the trail come close to it. I expect they are disappointed. The second time I see them they are anxious about the thumping sound. A grouse, I tell them; it’s a bird I also have to tell them.
The first mile in is switchbacks up and switchbacks back down to river level; but otherwise it’s a beautiful mostly level trail through the woods, huge conifers, birch, and brittle hardwoods, alternating with every directional change of the trail and the river. The forest is beginning to burst with buds; and there is a ridiculous amount of moss.
There are several stream crossings as snow run-off tumbles down from the Olympic mountains to the Skokomish. One particularly challenging one is deep and swift and has no stepping stones. I puzzle for a bit, then pull my poles out of my pack, plant them on the other side, and vault my 67 year old self across. I know it will be trickier on the return, landing in uphill mud rather than moss. I put it out of my mind. I’ll cross that creek when I get to it.
Found art is everywhere.
It’s impossible to put this life we don’t recognize out of mind, as what was true last week (sure, we can still do yoga together, we’re cleaning) to more and more restrictions as the reality of this sinks in (yoga by Zoom). Perhaps before long, I won’t be able to drive out of my town. We’re in for a long haul.
I have set up a web page for my writing circle to stay in touch. Maybe eventually Zoom will have another client so we can see each other. All around me friends are checking in, including those I don’t even know. Writers are blogging about their practices to stay centered. (Below are some bloggers I follow whose words may bring you peace and new ideas to cope.)
Hiking or a walk in the woods is still okay. Breathe in the healing medicine of the trees.
Practice physical distancing and emotional heart holding. Close your eyes, take in a deep breath to a count of 4, hold it for a count of 7, then slowly release it for a count of 8. Repeat. And WashYourHandsingTon (from 2012, skip the high fives and close encounters in 2020)!
Tomando Canto (drink care)
The Gift of an Ordinary Day Katrina Kennison
Gaian Soul Joanna Powell Colbert
Cheerio Road Karen Maezen Miller
Coaching + Support for Businesses with a Heart Margaret Rode
In Search of the Very Bonnie Rae Nygren