As I went out on my walk today, I did not have to walk too far before being reminded of the storm that passed through last night. Our yard looked like a gardener had attempted to snip away at our live oak trees. The trimmings were all over our yard. In a couple of cases, the gardener let his shears go crazy. He tested the sharpness of his shears on some large branches of the pine trees. But, whatever chaos was in my yard, I needed to get my walk in before the humidity climbed.
As I continued along my path, the gardener must have been joined by an arborist. Their efforts on the trees were causing chainsaws to buzz and rakes to gather in the smaller trimmings. Before I reached the one-mile mark of my path, a landowner was trying to recover a branch that fell into the path across a fence. The older couple ahead of me stopped pushing the stroller that contained their lapdog to help. Mr. Lapdog was struggling to find leverage on the branch. Mrs. Lapdog was standing there waiting. As I was about to pass them, I offered to help. My offer was something like, “Not sure what the rules are about helping during a pandemic, but I would be glad to.” My AirPods may have prevented me from hearing their jubilation at my offer. Mrs. Lapdog rushed to her husband’s aid before I could risk introducing a few breaths of possibly asymptomatic germs in their general direction. Whether or not I heard the answer, being helpful during a pandemic was not as easy as before her arrival. (Is it fair to call the pandemic a “her”? Since hurricanes can now be male or female, it seems logical pandemics would follow the same rules.)
Before arriving home, my value was reestablished when I talked to a gentleman who frequently is doing yard work when I pass by. He was busy working his rake when I paused on the other side of the road. We swapped a couple of, “I saw a bigger tree blown over then you did” stories.” After I appeared to win this debate, he was reminded of his rain gauge.
I said, “Based on the increase of water in my swimming pool, I would guess your gauge shows an inch or two.”
After picking up the gauge and checking, he said, “Just over one and a half inches. To be exact, it says one and six-tenths. Yeah, we got some rain.”
During a pandemic, it seems safest not to be in a situation where the pandemic should be a source of conversation. Pandemic help might just be trying to interact as much like “before” as possible. We are all trying to digest a normal that involves extended mask “laws”. Maybe the “help” people need is a conversation where they can see your lips move. They want to be acknowledged and not treated like they have super-cooties that can hop from bodies within a 10-foot radius. They want to see a smile that is not covered by a mask and only assumed to be present based on the twinkle in your eyes. Possible that is the kind of help people are seeking.