By Pat Leming
As you read this we are in day 81 of Shelter in Place (SIP) at the Leming household with 22 more days until the governor sets us elderly types free. That’s 103 days total – 2,472 hours – 148,320 minutes. How can we make that much time count?
There is no doubt this nasty Covid-19 virus has robbed us of things we value: freedom to go where we want when we want; large group gatherings, everything from church services to concerts to family holiday celebrations; businesses operating normally; travel; and the list goes on and on. Worst of all, it separated us from close, personal contact with each other. Oh, how I miss weekly visits with my grandchildren, especially the hugs.
Yet, Covid-19 brings great opportunities as well. I have ample time to adjust my activities. So, how am I making the days of SIP count? What opportunities am I grasping?
I volunteer. I still go to The Caring Place each Friday, but now only to do the recordkeeping. The Caring Place is still serving 180 to 200 families weekly throughout this pandemic. We have altered our distribution procedure to accommodate social distancing (SD), and we miss the personal contact with the clients. We are grateful that the community continues to provide generously in both funding and non-perishables donations to keep the shelves stocked.
I cook. For the first six weeks of our SIP, I cooked three meals a day. (Don loves this aspect of SIP.) Although I enjoy cooking, I am less a fan in week 12. Thus, we have discovered the wonders of multigrain Cheerios for several breakfasts each week. Recently, we added a few takeout meals too. We miss meals with family and friends. We are grateful for a well-stocked pantry and the easy companionship that comes with a long marriage.
I sew. What started as a small project to provide 24 masks for a medical group has resulted in over 175 masks for family, friends, and anyone who needs one. Initially, I selfishly thought that this is a great way to use my old quilting scraps so that I may buy new fabrics at the end of my quarantine. I average eight masks from each yard of material so I’m zipping right through my stash, right? Wrong! Much to my dismay, I have been quite the hoarder. Reality struck as I cleaned out my sewing/craft room last week. Who knew that little closet could hold so much? I need to make about 1,000 more masks to ever see a Handcock’s or JoAnn’s again. I am grateful to have the ability to give back to our community in this way.
I clean. My ovens are sparkling; I even scrubbed the racks with Brillo pads. Now that’s desperation! Every drawer, cabinet, closet, and storage bin is being purged. Be careful what you admire in my home once this SIP is over. If you like something, it will most likely be in your backseat when you leave. I miss my bi-monthly cleaning helper because she has become part of the family, but I am grateful to be able to share my discarded treasures with others.
I garden. Gardening is much more fun with others, but is, for now, a solo activity. I enjoy planting and tending the main office flower boxes at Morgan County High School and a small pollinator garden behind the Morgan County Extension Office. Also, I am spending many, many hours working in my own yard. We boldly removed 10 mature Leland Cypress trees which created a new planting bed of ridiculous proportions – 180 feet long by 10 to 30 feet wide. Perhaps it would have been wiser to remove the trees a few at a time, plant the newly acquired space, and then remove a few more, and so on. Too late! Just imagine dandelions, vetch, and their weedy friends swaying in the breeze. But, I am grateful to be able to share the produce and the flowers from my gardens.
I pray. I pray for the scientists looking for a vaccine, I pray for the essential workers who risk their safety for the sake of others, and I pray for world leaders that they make good decisions. Mostly, I pray for our children and the educators who are adapting lesson plans to meet the needs of all students. Experts predict that most young children will remember this time as one of great family togetherness. I especially pray for those children who suffer from abuse, hunger and/or loneliness during this time. School is vital for some children. I miss worshipping with my church family, I miss my Thursday morning Bible study group, and I miss the youngsters in my Sunday School class. I am grateful to serve a loving God who will see us through this difficult time, and I am grateful for the goodness I see in others.
I pod. Do you? Although we were already good neighbors and friends, the last three families on Cedar Drive have established a Coronavirus Isolation Pod together. Our pod includes nine: the Wilsons – Mark, Lisa, and Anna; the Welborns – Trae, Leslie, and toddlers Odin and Myra; and us Lemings – Don and Pat. Until late March, each family kept to itself, and now we observe social distancing and wear masks when together. Our pod is an active little group. First, we crafted boats from natural materials and floated them in the Wilsons’ pool (I won the Titanic medal – mine was the only boat that ever sank); next, we made kites, and had great laughs, but alas, none of them flew; then we painted birdhouses; and most recently, we played four-square on the Welborns’ driveway. Each activity is accompanied by snacks: ice cream floats, watermelon, boiled peanuts. I miss my family and my friends not in the pod. I am grateful for the laughter and comraderies we share, and I am especially grateful to live next door to a very creative high school art teacher who spearheads our pod activities.
I hope. I am an optimist who sees the world through rose-colored glasses. My hope is that you remain safe and content as we await a return to normalcy. This difficult time shall pass, and hopefully, we will be kinder, more considerate people for having experienced it.
Pat Leming is a retired educator who fills her days with volunteering. She currently serves on boards of The Caring Place, the Morgan County Historical Society, the Morgan County Humane Society, and the Georgia Retired Educators Association.