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Michelle Phillips

Oh, 2020, I had such high hopes for you. A new decade. A leap year. A census year. A Presidential Election.

But then Australia caught on fire. I am not especially spiritual, but it did seem like some foreboding sign that 2020 may not be all I had hoped it would be. The constant barrage of photos of crying koala bears, forest aflame and rescue efforts filled my social media feeds. 

Then in late February we really started hearing about the COVID-19 outbreak, in my opinion, when the federal government could no longer keep it from us. 

At the beginning, I, like most people, did not understand the severity of the virus. I was, however, calling for people to stay home when they were sick a few weeks ago. Never did I dream that by the end of March we all would be confined to our homes, trying to figure out how to work from home in some cases, or trying how to make ends meet in others. Parents having been thrust into the role as educators and literally everything cancelled. High school seniors are missing out on graduation, prom and other end of year rites of passage.

I have had to conduct meetings through live sites on the Internet (my favorite is Zoom), watch videos or listen to conference calls of meetings and try to figure out what to put in the paper aside for coverage of COVID-19. I have had to do everything via email and phone, and while many people today prefer that format, I like to go see people and meet them, cover events and learn about things in the community. 

It is a strange time, indeed.

It feels as though we are playing out roles in a dystopian novel. 

For example, I never thought I would have this exchange: I went to the UW Veterinary Clinic to pick up prescription food for our cat. They tell me to pull in, open my trunk, call when I am ready and that pick up must be between 12-1 p.m.

I follow this list of instructions, and the person on the other line asks, “Have you traveled outside the state to New York, Washington or California?”

“No,” I respond.

“Do you have symptoms of COVID-19? Fever? Coughing? Shortness of breath?”

“No,” I repeat.

“Have you been exposed to the virus, to your knowledge?”

“Not that I know of,” I say.

“Okay, I will send someone out with your food. What kind of car are you driving?”

Almost immediately a man in scrubs, a mask and gloves walked out with the bag of food.

He waves. I wave.

He puts the food in the back and I yell, “Thanks!”

He waves. I wave. 

Then I set about my way back home.

One of the things that I find concerning about this pandemic is that Americans have not dealt with anything on this scale since the Influenza outbreak in 1918. No one alive today is old enough to remember it. The good news is our medical knowledge is much more advanced than it was in 1918.

The other good news–spring is here!

I was walking around my neighborhood yesterday and I noticed the return of sandhill cranes, loons and a small white bird, also waterfowl, that I didn’t know. Daffodils and tulips are popping up in our yard and buds fattening on trees. 

It is a true reminder of renewal and life. A hint that COVID-19, isolation and daily adjustments to routine will not be forever.

Let’s hope that even though 2020 came in like a lion, it leaves like a lamb.




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