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It's the uncertainty that's hard

When tornadoes recently hit the Southern states, I was reminded that hurricane season is fast approaching. Gulf storms spin like dervishes, leaving flooded coastlines and overflowing rivers that never reach the Western drought-parched forests that become exploding infernos when hit by dry lightning.

While people in one part of the country run from water, the other part runs from fire, at the same time the coronavirus dictates we stay in place.

There is a sense of foreboding from both climate change and the pandemic — ironically that awareness converged on Earth Day last week. Long ago I saved a tiny white wisdom strip from inside a fortune cookie that read, “The physician heals, nature makes well.”

Right now, it seems both the overworked physician and Mother Nature need healing.

On March 13, the retirement community I live in went on lockdown with a no-visitors rule followed by no more communal dining or activities. The announcement was met with hushed acceptance and mutual understanding. Many freedoms have been incrementally taken away since then, the most recent being that none of us can leave the building, not by car or by foot.

If it becomes necessary to go out, a two-week quarantine is imposed where you can’t go out of your apartment door — solitary confinement. Even though it is for our protection, a small strain of rebellion rises up in me, I get claustrophobic inside a lot of rules. It would be easy to slip into sloth and gluttony cooped up in our apartment for who knows how much longer. But I don’t. I am grateful my husband and I enjoy an easy compatibility, jigsaw puzzles and reading.

I envy the staff here and my friends on the outside who can go to grocery stores or pharmacies or Home Depot. These are quiet complaints, because I’m well taken care of with daily virus health checks and meals are delivered to our door. However, I do miss walking the grocery aisles: the smell of the ground coffee, the aisle of soaps, and hearing the rattle of rolling carts in Freddie’s or the slap of lumber being loaded on flat carts in Home Depot.

My last real walk was March 30 on a country road at the end of Barnett Road. The moderate hill was worth the energy to view the valley below. Farther on, cows lazed around in an old oak woodland, birds sang in the trees, and three deer walked across the green hillside dotted with yellow mustard weed. I told myself I was going to come here as often as possible during spring. However, the very next day the new restrictions were laid down.

Now, I walk around the building five times to get a mile’s worth of exercise, it’s a boring walk. I long for the country road and know that someday I’ll get back to it. It’s the uncertainty that wears on me and all of us.

Judy Ticehurst lives in Medford.

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