Winter Chill

Winter Chill

A strange year is about to get stranger. Winter is already setting in upon us, and with it news that the Second Wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be more pervasive than the first. Daily infection numbers are over 160,000 nationwide, with positivity rates on testing well over 3-4 percent.The most dangerous place in the world to be if you are worried about the virus is North Dakota. Hospitals are full, and the Republican Governor, who had refused to invoke a mask-wearing mandate in the name of freedom of choice, has decreed that doctor and nurses registering as positive for the virus can still work in health care tending to infected patients. For too many Americans there is still an air of disbelief, as if the pandemic were a hoax, or exaggerated, or simply the way another way of everyday life making things tough for some people and not so tough for others. In which case, fatalism suggests that no measures of prevention or caution are needed. So let’s all just continue with plans for large family gatherings at Thanksgivings. One of the saddest expressions of this is now circulating its way through the internet in the form...Read more

Country Road

We live where the suburban edge of a modest size metropolitan area gives away to wooded hills. It’s not exactly country and certainly not rural. But it’s enough of a feel away from urban development and horizontal sprawl where we can comfortably take a walk in the woods simply by heading down the two-lane road in front of our house and disappearing in protected land. Sometimes we head up the slope that forms the access point to what is very loosely called “a mountain” but really is just a long rise of land several hundred feet above base elevation. Other times we’ll take a more relaxed path along a wooded road dotted with houses every few hundred feet. Some of those houses date to the mid-1700s. Others represent the entire history of American design, from modest cottages and stone-foundationed farm houses to garish modern structures that devote more attention to the multi-car garage in front than to the windows or front porch. It’s an eclectic mix, one we have been perusing regularly since we launched our encounter with “extreme nesting” back in early March of this year. We have a one-mile loop around a church yard where some of the...Read more
Going Labile

Going Labile

Most people I know are on edge, their mood swings dependent upon the last news clip they’ve seen, poll read or article depicting this or that nightmarish electoral outcome. The onset of autumn hasn’t helped. Shortened daylight, cooler weather, less opportunity to engage in open skies and good long walks help expedite the early onset of SAD – seasonal affective disorder. Normally it makes its grip felt on the other side of the calendar: in the wintry doldrums of February’s cabin fever. But in this year of strange and unpredictable stressors it seems as if forced isolation and limited social engagement have exacted their toll earlier than ever. And one of the symptoms of this emotional lability is the oscillation between confidence and pessimism at the outcome of the Nov. 3 election. There’s a medical model of neuro-psychiatry that chalks up mood swings to organic dysfunction. The diagnosis is based upon a biological-chemical model, akin to the now standard understanding of manic-depression. There are a lot of prescription drugs available for doctors to apply that will temper the mood swings and return the patient to a modicum of stability, or at least slow down the Jekyll and Hyde transformations. There’s...Read more