Monday, April 06, 2020

We are all in this apart

some of last year's peach harvest

Yesterday it was finally dry and warm enough to prune the fruit trees. It's important not to prune just before rain, as the newly cut branch ends are susceptible to mold and rot and disease. And fruit trees need to be pruned in order to yield a harvest. (This is not a metaphor.)

So I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon with my pruning sheers and my loppers working on 3 peach and 2 plum trees. I left my phone inside and for those precious hours, my world was clipping all the upright suckers, branches that crossed other branches, and anything that either grew into the center of the trees or would block sun coming into the canopy.

It was calming and soothing to do this work and the fatigue I felt afterward was a normal tired, not the emotional exhaustion of watching the covid-19 projections or hearing the news about new hot spots and deaths.

I have at least a half dozen friends who personally know people who have died from covid-19. I know it is only a matter of time until I do. 


I spoke (by telephone) a few weeks ago with the gentleman who heads our small community's emergency response team. He talked about the painful irony in that all of their emergency/contingency planning assumed we'd be using community buildings as shelters and that we would be gathering together. 

Now we are isolated, apart. 


This is a fragmented reality. We are forced apart from the communities that help give structure to our lives - schools, houses of worship, jobs, entertainment. And while we are all experiencing some kind of shared trauma, we are also experiencing completely different, individual traumas. 

This virus will take a toll on all of us, but its effects are not distributed equally. I don't know what to do with that understanding, but I think it's important to acknowledge. 

My children are grown and living on their own, so I don't need to face the pressures of managing young people's fears and the stress of being responsible for their learning. 

I am physically well, so I can complete my activities of daily living without assistance. 

I am coping emotionally as well as can be expected and have access to mental health supports.

I am living in a house on a small farmstead, so it's easy to practice physical distancing as well as have access to being physically active outdoors, weather permitting. I'm also in an area with a ton of farms that are either delivering food, or have it available for contactless pick up, so I'm well fed. 

My relationships are sound and healthy, so I don't feel unsafe.

My spouse is still employed, so I don't have to panic about paying a rent or mortgage, or having health insurance. 

I have friends, family, and acquaintances for whom some or all of these (and more) stresses come into play and so added to the shared trauma, their individual traumas make everything that much harder. 


Never in my experience have I understood more clearly the need to protect the public good and to ensure that those who are vulnerable are safe. 


Never in my experience have I been as dismayed by our leadership's utter failure to respond to the urgent needs of all its citizens. 


We are all in this together. We are all in this apart. Both of these are true. 


I still have 3 young pear trees to prune. They are probably still not mature enough to bear fruit this year, but with time and care, they will. This is both my task for today and a metaphor.

Be well. Be safe.

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  1. Well said. I'm glad to hear your personal update and thankful for the reminder of those I need to remember.