Love in the time of corona - apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez*
SATURDAY, MARCH 21 - Welcome to spring!
It’s so weird - a blizzard without the snow. Deny Howeth’s piece at capegazette.com calls it surreal. Perfect. Every day scenes - mundane and quotidian - take on a whole new dimension in the context of a threatening virus
Ten days ago we were on Jumbie Beach at St. John in the Virgin Islands. Long-planned vacation. Premonitions always around us. Moisture in the air formed the most intense corona I’ve ever seen. Probably didn’t do the camera lens any good but gave it a shot anyway. Preview of coming attractions.
Corona virus conversation began building each day. By the time we left, the discussion had intensified. Cruise ships halting stops at St. Thomas, crowds on the streets dwindling, every cough and sneeze suspicious - you could almost hear the heavy, precisely machined, infinitely sized and interconnected gears of the economy slowing - torquing down - to a snail’s pace. But still, with the indomitable persistence of nature that brought green leaves back to the completely browned vegetation of St. John in the wake of Hurricane Irma’s devastation two and half years ago, the economy slows, but does not stop - neither for hurricane or virus. As Crisfield waterman Hon Lawson used to say, scarce oysters don’t get no scarcer. Keep on keepin’ on. Keep on the sunny side. “Twas ever thus,” said Mr. Natural
Waiting for a ferry to carry us across from St. John to St. Thomas, two misplaced passports caused me to make an emergency trip back to the house we had rented. Quick action. Focused. Good luck. Success. While I went in the house, the taxi driver grabbed a knife and cut off a slice of aloe. It grows wild all over the island. I’ve used the silky juice that swells its leaves to soothe sunburn, but that wasn’t his plan.
“I’ll squeeze out the juice, mix it with orange juice and then drink it. Doesn’t taste very good but people here use it to fight colds and other ailments.”
Our waitress at Tickles on St. Thomas confirmed the concoction and its uses. No mention of corona - but like the virus, that thought was in the air. No sense in encouraging the bad juju by mentioning it out loud and by name.
Back here on terra cognito on Friday, I cruised to the Tidemark facility at Long Neck. Nice spring day. The intersection of Route 5 and Route 24 struck me as looking particularly good - lots of new buildings with pretty landscaping. Green grasses, yellow sunshine, red bricks, blue skies and white puffy clouds. Nature leans toward beauty though it doesn’t really care. Same with the Covid-19 virus. It doesn’t care. All the more reason for us to care - especially for one another. Social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t make phone calls and talk to one another. That’s a major part of being human. We crave connections. We love to hear stories and we love to tell stories. A few well-placed kind words can provide a magical lift.
On the way home on Beaverdam Road, I passed Coastal Club, the lodge and Pam-An’s Arabian Farm. FREE MANURE. The sign has been there for decades. The smiles it has brought through the years are like the grains of sand on the beach: countless. And the best part is it’s a serious offer. Pam is happy to have people haul away her horse manure and spread it on their gardens to enrich their soil. A few seeds, some simple and satisfying toil, and nature will provide the rest.
Just like that corona we saw at Jumbie Beach, Pam’s sign doesn’t lie.
Keep the faith; this too shall pass.
* The famous South American author, known for his magical realism, wrote a wonderful novel titled ‘Love In The Time of Cholera.’