Handling the Madness in Rural Oklahoma

Living in this corner of America during a pandemic means the following:

My life has only changed in that the powers-that-be continue to make broad, sweeping, sometimes unconstitutional decisions about what I can or cannot do and where I can or cannot go. (Reminder to my fellow Americans: Our constitutional rights, including Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of Religion, do not go away just because people are sick and scared. Beware a government who takes away your rights “for your own good.” Our church went to online services without the need of a governor mandate because they have common sense and don’t want the elderly in our church exposed to possible illness. Elon Musk, Ford, and GM started working on making ventilators without the government demanding that they do so; the same is true for distilleries who are now making hand sanitizer and places like our local t-shirt company who is now working on masks for healthcare professionals. To paraphrase and add to an old chestnut: America is great because she is good–but only if her people are allowed the freedom and the trust to be so.)

I will now be conducting my college English I and II classes online. Since I teach reading and writing, it isn’t too much of a stretch. That library job I was so excited about still exists, though we shut our doors to the public. I must say, the way people rushed in to check out books like we were the Walmarts with the last rolls of toilet paper on the planet did my heart good. Literacy lives, people!

Living in rural Oklahoma during a pandemic means:

Nature hasn’t been told there is a pandemic. Grass is growing, morels are begging to be hunted, and flowers bloom and bloom and bloom. I forgot that my Irish skin needs to be slowly coaxed into a suntan and got my first serious sunburn of the season yesterday when I sat outside for an hour on a bench (yes, at a safe distance), visiting with my lonely 84-year old widowed neighbor after taking her some lasagna. I’ve wandered over to see my folks a couple of times this week, and they are busy cutting grass, hunting morels, and watching those flowers bloom and bloom and bloom. The red wasps are out (devil insects!) and I’ve joined the fat furry carpenter bees in fighting them off. The bees chase them relentlessly, and if any get past, I am ready and armed with long-range wasp spray. We shan’t rest until every crimson demon and its unnecessarily aggressive stinging is vanquished!

Instead of stress-eating, I’ve been stress-hiking–through the acres of land surrounding my own, up and down hiking trails, down country roads and back. Alone, there is no one who shouts “social distancing!” at me or asks me to ring a dang bell when I approach (that’s the latest suggestion from the city when using their trails–absurd). I march around the countryside 5 to 7 miles a day, praying out loud, listening to great audiobooks, whispering new possible book ideas to myself. I come home exhausted and sometimes covered in ticks, but my mind is clear and I’m fine.

Really, I’m fine. I hope you are too, in your corner of the world.

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