Partial to Home: A boon and gentle tonic


Birney Imes



Advice, insight and inspiration from a variety of sources.



During Spring Equinox (Thursday, March 19) we hope you can get outdoors: The virus does not like fresh air or sunlight. UV kills viruses, and there is evidence fresh air has disinfectant qualities. As long as you can do it safely, get outside and maintain a distance from others.



You are safer from viruses in nature than stuck in a stuffy inside place. Walk when you can. Go for a run. Bicycle when you can. Get on the river. Stay healthy. Stay in shape. It will do your body -- and heart -- good.


Civilization is getting upended, but our natural world is continuing on pretty much the same.(Maybe better with decreased human activity) Around here that means the reawakening of trees and flowering flora and the beginnings of waterfowl and songbird migrations. Beaver are busy rebuilding burrows, owls are patrolling the night woods, and the frog nation is filling our wetlands with their enthusiastic chorus of peeps, grunts, bleats and barks.


John Ruskey, March 20, Lower Mississippi River Dispatch



Monday at The Dispatch I was washing my hands for the second or third time, and it was barely 8 a.m.


As I reached for a paper towel I noticed the print of two bluesmen playing guitars that's hung in our bathroom for years. The artist, George Davidson, is a friend. He lives in Athens, Georgia.


The caption under George's woodcut: "Between darkness and the break of day."


Which seems to be where we are at the moment.


With my phone, I snapped a pix of George's print and texted it to him, wishing him well. With the virus has come the desire to connect with those we care about.


Almost immediately, he called.


"Talking to you was a boon and just the gentle tonic needed for a peaceful morning," he wrote in an email afterwards.


This poem a friend from New York emailed us last week has gone viral. It's by Kitty O'Meara, who has been dubbed "poet laureate of the pandemic." You may have seen it.



And the people stayed home


And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply.


Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.


And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.


And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed."



Countries successful in slowing the spread of the virus -- most notably China and South Korea -- have done so by being vigilant and aggressive. We must do the same. It's beyond understanding to know there are those out there who still take this pandemic lightly.


Limit your encounters with others as much as possible and when you do, keep your distance.Wash your hands.


This, too, shall pass. In the meantime take this slowdown as an opportunity for introspection, to get out in nature, read, exercise and focus on loved ones.



"There's a way a disaster throws people into the present and gives them this supersaturated immediacy that also includes a deep sense of connection. It's as though, in some violent gift, you've been given a kind of spiritual awakening where you're close to mortality in a way that makes you feel more alive."


Rebecca Solnit in a 2016 "On Being" interview"



A friend invited another friend, one who lives alone, to come over and have a beer. They sat at opposite ends of the porch. A younger woman phoned a 94-year-old woman who lives alone and offered to pick up her mail at the downtown post office.


Who do you know who is alone, who hearing from you would be a boon and a gentle tonic?




Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.


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