On the Passing of Days in a Pandemic
“It feels like Sunday. Is it? It sure feels like it. Is it Sunday?” That’s my husband asking me what day it is. The question requires some sort of response so I do the best I can.
“It might be. I don’t know. I’m not sure. I think it might be Saturday.” Are we just making idle conversation or do we truly not know what day it is?
There are more accurate ways of discerning what day it is, but we persist in asking each other. Sometimes I check with him, “Is this Tuesday?” and he usually has some fence-straddling response. Why do we keep asking each other instead of utilizing one of those other sources of information—the phone, the newspaper, the TV, the time and date bar at the bottom of the computer screen?
I can answer that. Every time it happens it reasserts our bond, says how much we love and rely on each other, but something else happens, too. It’s a way of reassuring each other that the feeling of losing track of the days is common, something we both feel and so neither of us has to worry—am I the only one who doesn’t quite have a grip, the only one who’s not perking along right up to speed in these most peculiar times?
Many of the guide posts of life are temporarily gone as we take shelter in our homes for who-knows-how-long. The cycle of work days and not-work days is disrupted. There is no clump of neighborhood children waiting for the 7:00 a.m. school bus, confirming for us that it is a week day. We can’t count on church bells or major sporting events to delineate the weekend. There’s morning, midday, afternoon and evening, and every day is just like the one before and the one that will follow, except for any schedules or specific goals we may set for ourselves.
This isn’t boredom or lethargy. We have plenty to do. We had a plan to clean out the shed. We talked about it a little last week and agreed that it was a good idea. Yesterday, we said we’d do it today. Now that today is here, there’s no urgent sense of carpe diem. We’ll be here tomorrow, just like today, so if it doesn’t get done today, oh well.
This feeling of every day the same is unsettling, but I have an ace in my pocket, a solution for the issue—my pill box. Wednesday’s slot is empty so I must have taken my vitamins this morning and I’m good . . . if this is Wednesday. Thursday’s vitamins are still in the pill box, so if this is Thursday . . .
I know it’s summer and I know it’s a beautiful day. If I feel the need for more clarification I’ll just ask my husband for his guess.
On Seeking Continuity in a Pandemic
I was watching the movie of my life and then the plot shifted into a story that I don’t recognize. “Everything is changed and nothing will ever be the same again.” That is my heart wailing. But it’s not true, at least not in the garden. Leaves and buds and flowers—just like last year, and I am relieved.
I once had a neighbor whose meticulously planned garden was a wonder to behold. He had plotted carefully where to plant what, interspersing plants in such a way that there was never a dull moment, never a barren spot. Something was always in bloom.
I’m not that kind of gardener, but over the years I’ve come to rely on certain truths. The crocuses are the first to bloom, the daisies will never bloom before the iris and the pink peonies will be next, just in time to celebrate my husband’s birthday.
The Emerald Queen maple tree that I love will never turn into an oak, and there is absolutely no chance that the yellow rose bush will move itself to someplace else during the winter. I count on it and it doesn’t disappoint. It is there, exactly where it was last year and all the years before that, in full bloom right now, like it was the day we got married.
I know what comes next. The white phlox will bloom by the end of the week. I remember their fragrance, available for inhaling only in July, and I know they will smell like they have always smelled.
Birds, bees, dragonflies, even the pesky ants that insist on living between the patio bricks, everybody is here again this year. No crickets yet, but they will be here later this month, just like always.
Undisturbed by the virus that has brought such unease to the rest of our lives, the garden is doing exactly what it did last year, rotating through the cycle of the season. The pattern and script of much of my life is altered but there is continuity in my world. As soon as the sun rises, I shall step outside and prove it.
Diann Logan lives in Arvada.