April 2, 2020
Pre・science /’preSH(ē)ǝns (noun): the fact of knowing something before it takes place; foreknowledge.
I don’t claim to be prescient, but these things are true.
1. Over the years, culling out books to dispose of—including from my parents’ collection—I’ve held back on some never-read ones and might-read-again ones. Those acquainted with me know I have a singular preference for the public library. Books I purchase or am gifted gather dust while I read book after book from the bibliotechque. (Also I’ve never read a book on a device, and prefer not to.) As I weed through them, like other people hanging onto fabric or what have you, I return many to the shelf, just in case. “What if the grid goes down and the library closes, and there’s no internet even. And even Amazon is out of business. I’ll read them then.” Such a far-fetched science-fiction fantasy could happen. Right?
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community.
2. I never meant to stay in my family home forever. But as we have plunged deeper into the fact that the leader of the free world is mentally ill and that far too many people have checked their brains at the door to follow him (think Adolf Hitler), I’ve had second thoughts. Recently I said to my sisters, children, and others, “Maybe it’s stupid to leave behind a house with no mortgage on land that can grow food, where we can self-isolate, where we can be somewhat immune to the economy if it crashes, where we might be out of reach if Russia takes over the world, or there’s a climatic tailspin. The whole family may need to live here someday.” It could happen. Right?
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap (to save water), and apply soap.
March 23, 2020 Proclamation 20-25: “[a]ll people in Washington State shall immediately cease leaving their home or place of residence except: (1) to conduct or participate in essential activities, and/or (2) for employment in essential business services.” Governor Jay Inslee
Or a pandemic. We’re into week 2 of “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” in Washington; I’ve been ensconced longer than that. I fully expect the order to be extended.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
3. In December I had a sudden notion that, two years after the death of my cat, I might be ready for another one. By January, I wasn’t sure. In February, I unexpectedly acquired Lena. I immediately had serious regrets. She’s not a cuddle bunny. She’ll be afraid of my grandchildren when they visit. There is litter to scoop, and cat hair. Her early morning wild rumpuses, I feared, disturbed Airbnb guests in the apartment below.
And now? With no guests of any kind, I am beyond grateful for Lena’s company.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
4. As a child, I walked into the woods from my home—this home I’m in again—explored the trails on foot and horseback. I grew up and moved away—as children do—leaving childish things behind. Around 1980, there was an idea to log city property on my hill, as a way to pay for the cost of covering the reservoirs. My parents and others came to the rescue.
Two Girl Scout leaders named Chloe Palmer and Stellajoe Staebler were rallying the community. They created the nonprofit group, Friends of the Seminary Hill Natural Area, along with people like Stellajoe’s husband George, and [their neighbors] Sandy and Robert Godsey.
In the years since 2012, when I moved back to this corner of the country and into my childhood home, I’ve set intentions to spend more time on these paths in the woods. And then I don’t. Year after year. I have, though, explored many trails I have to drive to; and I live for those adventures.
All state and national forest lands are closed now. Many trailheads are officially off limits; travel to any of them is in violation of the Order. And so, I am walking on the trails of my childhood every day. I stop at Staebler Point during every walk and thank my parents. I thank them for their foresight, for saving this precious land for me and for my town.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
5. I subscribe to blogs and websites for writers. They pop into my virtual mailbox with alarming regularity, with their free webinars and writing prompts. I leave them in the box, or copy the prompts into a document. “Someday,” I tell myself, “if I can’t hike or work outside or visit the grandchildren; if I need a break from revising my memoir and working on my (three) family history writing projects…”
Last week I listened to a webinar on Narrative Helix, weaving a story with something in another language, like a list language, or instructions.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
For times such as these.