Here's another picture of cattle egrets in the park in Pleasanton, California, last year.
I was supposed to be back in Pleasanton this past week. Yesterday I got a message from the airline about checking in for the flight back to New York that was canceled weeks ago, and it felt like an artifact from another time. Everything has changed so quickly, and yet so completely, that I'm constantly astonished by how much I've adjusted to the ongoing series of New Normals. Just a few weeks ago I would dump groceries on my counter and put them away, without wiping down every package, every surface, every handle, with a disinfectant. A few weeks ago, no one was wearing masks in the grocery. Last week, all of the cashiers had them. This week, all of the customers, including me, were wearing them as well.
Scrubbing my hands for 20 seconds has become such a habit that yesterday I had to stop after peeling an orange and remind myself that occasionally it was okay to just rinse.
The city is quiet -- not silent, it's never silent here -- but so quiet that I hear things that are usually lost in the constant buzzy white noise of urban life: a conversation across the back yard, someone's TV, the clatter of dishwashing in a neighbor's kitchen. And sirens. So many sirens.
Every night at seven o'clock, there's a show of appreciation for our health care workers. People clap and cheer and ring bells from their windows. It's a welcome show of community in all this isolation, because of course the doctors and nurses and EMT's and cleaning crews working frantically inside the hospitals can't hear us. We're cheering to thank them, but also I think for ourselves, to say, Hello! I'm still here! We've made it through another day.
Hello. I'm still here. I've made it through another day.