How are you holding up?
Here we are a week later and if you’re like me, it’s hard to navigate all the updates and directives which have happened since we last “spoke.”
As Ohioans and West Virginians were ordered to “stay home” (for the most part), I’ve noticed friends on social media becoming creative with their confinement. As you might’ve read this week in our newspapers, there are several “bear hunts” going on in local neighborhoods. This involves residents hiding bears in their windows for children to spot them as an activity and a distraction from all things virus related. Truth be told, it’s a distraction for adults too.
We need distractions now that coronavirus is appearing in our area, with confirmed cases in Gallia and Mason counties. Am I surprised by this? Does a bear, uh, sleep, in the woods? In short, no, not surprised. Ever notice when you start looking for something, there it is? (Except car keys, these may be the exception.) When tests became available locally, it was only a matter of time. Though our area is insulated from many “bad things” in the world, it’s foolish to think we are insulated from them all. For me, that hit home when I noticed the busy street outside my house started to consistently sound like it does when there’s a heavy snow – muffled and quiet, with a stray car only here and there.
As you can imagine, working at a newspaper right now doesn’t allow for much time away from the latest headlines and here at Ohio Valley Publishing, we all feel like it’s our responsibility to get information out to our local readers as quickly as possible. After all, we were deemed “essential.” Still, I take a break to either walk or take a drive everyday and after all the newspapers are finished for the night, I stream reruns of “The Golden Girls” to feel normal. What would Sophia Petrillo have to say about all this? “Picture it, 2020, and all the toilet paper was wiped from the shelves! A guy named Vito from my village started selling corncobs to make extra money. Nobody complained!” What would’ve been more unbelievable to you a month ago – toilet paper being sold out or nobody complaining? By the way, what are you doing to feel normal out there?
I also look for anything familiar to keep me grounded. Seeing neighbors mowing their grass is oddly comforting right now, though not great for seasonal allergies and paranoia that ponders “is this pollen or the virus?” Maybe there are daffodils showing up in your yard, reminding you of some consistency in the form of yellow or white blooms. When I’m driving on a country road and see daffodils, I always wonder who took the time to plant those; it reminds me how optimistic they must’ve been to pick that spot and leave them to time.
Though I don’t have daffodils, I do have a stray cat who has taken up residence in the tall grass. If you recall, I wrote a column last year about my porch cat, Orca, and how, after several years guarding my yard, he went to kitty heaven when a cancerous tumor had taken over his mouth. I’m 99 percent sure this new cat is Orca’s offspring. He looks and moves like his father (who was quite the ladies man) though poor thing has one eye that doesn’t quite line up with the other. I call him (Uncle) Fester because he’s a bit odd but oddly familiar and familiar is a good thing right now.
This week I also received a handwritten note from a longtime, familiar family friend in Henderson. The friend wanted me to know she read my column last week and like my Nannie, she too saves everything with the intention of sharing it. “My delight is when someone asks ‘have you got this or that…’” she wrote, talking about exchanging food and other items with neighbors in the past. She reminded me of a mindset ingrained in another generation that is currently reminding us all to plan for a rainy day. She closed out her letter with “We are from the hard times and old as dust!” She also reminded me people still need people even if the way we connect right now is unfamiliar to us, at least for the time being. To the friend, thanks for the note because it was the best thing I read all week.
Once again, thank you all for subscribing and supporting our newspapers in whatever way you can or do. Don’t forget, during this pandemic, we have taken down our paywall and you may also view our entire newspaper, at no charge, via our E-Editions found on our websites. Please share this information, stay safe and wash your hands.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.