• Jody Kussin

In Times Like These #14 3-28-2020

Well, it is starting to set in. The novelty (if there was any) is wearing off and we are wearing down. For instance, on my first walk of the day, I saw an older couple yelling at one another on their porch, a mom screaming at three kids on bikes, and a young homeless man asleep on the sidewalk. It’s not that I never see things like this, it’s just that I normally would see one such image a month, not three before 10am.

Then, something I’ve never seen: two mini vans pulled up alongside one another in what appeared to be a drug deal, one facing north and the other south. Luckily, my dog really wanted to sniff the grass for her perpetual hunt for our roving band of mythical coyotes, so I had a pretty good seat from across the street. Turns out I was a witness to a very serious ‘egg deal.’ One driver, the seller said she’d driven out to a farm in Ventura County and while she was already all out of Extra Large Grade A, she still had Large, but as she was running low, it would ‘be a bit pricier than originally promised.’ Bartering ensued until the other driver, the buyer, purchased three cartons and the seller electronically opened the for the buyer, in her gloved hands, to reach in to collect her ‘contraband.’ These are unusual times to be sure.

On the second walk of the day, I saw a few trees that embody our So Cal rarely experienced seasons of spring + fall - - - trees covered with leaves turning to red and orange and gold, while also sprouting buds and little flowers. I also saw many squirrels who seem to believe they own the roads, as the roads are deserted. Additionally, people are outdoors pulling weeds like never before and little children are learning about the origin stories of tomatoes.

By the third walk, I encountered the life affirming thing I’ve been seeing every late afternoon – family groups walking together. While I often will see one parent and one child on a walk, until the past two weeks, I essentially never saw the whole ensemble. Most likely it’s because one or both parents were working and one or more kids were off playing sports, seeing tutors, or hanging with peers. However, it is quite lovely now to observe (from more than six feet away) all members of the party. They appear to be taking their time – sauntering, if you will – down the middle of the streets. They are laughing and pointing out the return of the bees and the hummingbirds. Sometimes they are walking dogs, sometimes not. Sometimes they are on bikes or scooters and most often, they are on foot. I’m sure that in the years ahead, we will all have take aways and memories from this bizarre time, as will our children. Our fear, which is 100% understandable and justified, makes it too noisy in our heads at times to take in the still soft voices and the sound of the almost here spring breezes. However, as noted on every meme and gif you receive, keeping a gratitude list in these times is immensely helpful. It does not mean we have to pretend we’re not nervous – just that while nervous, we can also acknowledge the grace in our lives….family groups walking have one another and egg deals in the hood actually indicate a sense of community and communication (how did they know to meet up at that time on that corner?) Neighbors are meeting one another for the first time. And while screen time, which had been vilified for years, is now getting its due, people time has become even more valued.

As the old song says, ‘come on people, smile on your brother’ - - - and on your postal worker (can’t believe they are still having to walk door to door delivering mail) and on your 92 year old next door neighbor and on the older couple mid argument. And when possible, smile on yourself too – you know you have lots of time to turn that frown upside down.

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