Love in a Covid Climate


Karen Radford Treanor 

 


Copyright 2020  by Karen Radford Treanor

Photo of a ladle of soup.
 

In the blink of a metaphor we have gone from our hum-drum lives to a whole new place, a terra incognita from which some of us won’t emerge alive.

The new species of corona virus at first seemed to be “just another flu” and nothing most of us were worried about.

Then people began to sicken, and some to die. And then the conspiracy theories took root and flourished in a pile of bovine excrement, always the best nourishment for such things. You had your choice of “secret experiments in a West German laboratory” or “biological warfare experiments by the CIA” or “escapees from a laboratory in China” or any one of a dozen variants on that theme. The idea that the virus had been around for years in bats, those notorious carriers of nasty things, was the least believed of the causes—although probably the correct one.

By the second month of the virus invasion people were starting to really worry. The worry took the form of panic buying. Shelves rapidly emptied and women appeared in magistrates’ courts charged with simple assault after shoving one another in stores. Waterless hand wash was the first thing to go, despite constant messaging by health experts that the best protection from contagion was real soap and water hand washing, thorough and often. For a still inexplicable reason, toilet paper was the second panic buy, and some gougers offered it at $1.80 a roll.

Then pasta, and flour began to vanish from the shelves. Those of us who make our own bread were nonplussed to discover we couldn’t get supplies, because those who had never baked in their lives were buying and hoarding flour. Weevils around the world rejoiced. Tinned goods also began to vanish.

More seriously, American gun shops had lines out the door and around the block, which surprised nobody but worried many. With the feeling of waiting for the first shoe to drop, we watch the news bulletins for the inevitable report of someone shooting another shopper over a tin of Spaghettios.

But enough with the rehashing of the bad stuff! Quietly going on amidst all the panic and fake news and conflated causation are lots of really nice stories. Australia is starting to recover the spirit that made a nation out of a double handful of adventurers, misfits and refugees in a previous century. Bad news still makes the headlines, but most of what’s happening is pretty darn good.

Spontaneous neighbourhood groups have sprung up on line to offer support and camaraderie. People who have transport are offering rides to those who don’t. Younger folk are volunteering to do shopping for elder ones. People with extra supplies are sharing with neighbours who can’t get them.

Small businesses, the most likely to be hurt by the global financial downturn due to the virus, are finding new ways to connect to buyers. On-line markets are replacing the open-air gatherings that were common every weekend.

Restaurants which can’t host diners on the premises are now offering take-away, and home delivery as well. Neighbourhood stores are doing home deliveries to the elderly or disabled.

Backyard gardeners are putting boxes of excess apples or eggplants or carrots near their front gates with notes “Please take what you need”. Small farmers are offering a home delivery service of boxes of mixed fruit and veg to those who can’t come to the farm stand to collect them.

The Gormanston Road store in Australia has put a note on its Facebook page: “From tomorrow we will be serving soup available by the cup every day except Sunday. How much you pay is up to you to decide and we will accept donations of vegetables and pasta as payment. Everyone needs comfort as we cope with the craziness of this new world so our gift to all of our wonderful customers and community is to provide soup.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself.



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