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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

A spring like no other

We are in the midst of a long beautiful spring in southern Indiana. The trees are mostly past their flowerings, pear and peach, dogwood and redbud. Now everything is all shades of green, not a branch left unleafed. The iris are opening, the peonies will come on soon, already the carpels are pushing out, soon the massive flowers will open and open until the very weight of them pulls them down toward the earth. But now everything is reaching up. Today the sky is that clear pale blue that makes the world look so expansive, anything seem possible. But of course, it is not. this is a spring like no other we have known. While everything pushes out and open, we are drawn into ourselves at home. I am lucky, more than lucky, to have land to walk, surrounded by quiet and a sense of spaciousness. My cupboards are stocked with food. I am very aware that this is not the way it is for most, that this sheltering in place feels more like a lock down, and what feels like a plethora of time for the few, is a wide crevasse of the unknowable, unobtainable, for the many. Our local farmer’s market is now a car pick up line, and I spend more time on- line then I did when I was still full time research faculty at the university. But other than that my days are largely unchanged, I have worked from home for years now, and am alone much of the time, hours at my desk broken up with walks around my land and household chores, a calm pace interspersed with short bursts of wild energy from our new puppy. I have it easy but there are times the distance wee now impose is not an easy one. I miss the casual occurrences, a coffee with a friend, browsing at the library for just the right read, running into someone you haven’t seen at the co-op. The easy part of being in community. Now to connect with someone it needs to be purposeful, a letter sent, facetime planned, an old fashioned phone call. We are learning our way around time, and our notion of geography has been upended. We are nearing May and I don’t think things will quite ever go back to what they were. There will be a resurgence of being back out in the world of course, but it will look different, feel different, and none of know just how it will be. People have been through this before, in times of war, previous pandemics like the one a century before and the plague that unraveled Europe centuries ago. There have been communities whose lives were stolen by AIDS, and other communities destroyed by the disease invaders brought. Human society has been turned upside down countless times. But for most of us, this is first time we’ve had our way of life disrupted so completely. While it is hard to make sense of what we do not know, I believe we may be the wiser for it, and more importantly the kinder. At least that is my hope.

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