4 p.m., Monday, March 16, I’ve busted out of the house where we’ve been hunkered down and I’ve been working from home. Observing strict social distances, I’m walking through Woodstock. Actually, it’s quite easy to keep my distance, as there is barely anyone on the street.
Is this reality? Is it the ‘new normal?’
We’ve lived through some paradigm shattering changes before, like 9/11, or Trump’s ascendance to the top spot, were we believed the world would never be the same. Think about World War II. Will we ever get back to lives as we’ve known them, go out to a club and hear live music, or interact where there are many people. Will all our interactions be isolated and virtual from now on? Will it be weeks, months, years until we can resume what have been, relatively speaking, lives of comfort in a volatile world, one in which we have carelessly trashed the planet? But, hey, as a race, we’ve done some pretty decent things, too.
I run into Daniela Brown, who manages the men’s clothing store Changes. She’s got the door open and she’s putting the finishing touches on a good cleaning of the store.
“Today has been really quiet. I kind of expected it, but it was a harsh thing to accept right now,” she says, noting that the store would be closing for a while. “I’m hoping that we can all stay positive even though I know it’s a really tough time right now. And that in a couple of weeks, even if it’s a couple of months, I look forward to just getting back here, and seeing my community again and being able to interact with them again…”
I stroll the street. Little House closed, Pleasures closed…Taco Juan’s closed. The Golden Notebook is open with a sign outside with an arrow pointing toward the door and it says, ‘Fresh off the press…Escapism…’
It’s 4:36 p.m. Guild is closed, Rare Bear is closed, WAAM gallery is closed, Oriole 9, usually closed by this time anyway…
Catskill Mountain Pizza has some business. Linda Tiano, who shares ownership with her son Bryan Roefs, allows how they traditionally have a pretty good take out lunch business, and, you know, you always need some good pizza. “Supplies? We’ve been getting supplies, we get all our deliveries, got two cases of gloves, so everyone is equipped with gloves…other than that, we’re going to start delivering from 11 a.m. when we open until we close. We just have a hard time figuring out if people can come in and order, then stand and wait for their food. There’s been no directive, other than you have to close at 8 o’clock…”
Jay Sadowitz is in Jarita’s Florist, with an ever present smile. “Well, we’ve seen people coming in, in small amounts, people calling on the phone for us. We think we provide a service that people can really use right now, to bring beauty and joy to your houses…” The shop has waived the fee for deliveries. “People are glad we’re here, they’ve come in and said, I’m so glad you’re open, I need this. We’re staying open until we’re told we can’t.” His outlook? Not bad…
“As a community, we seem to be doing this well, we’re treating each other with respect and some humor, because that’s important to keep. We live in a place where it’s safer…I don’t think it’s totally safe, but we have lots of space, you can go outside and not be around anybody if you choose to. We have sunshine, we can go for a walk. Sunlight, UV, is very good for destroying viruses and hopefully we come out better for this, we learn that we are one, brothers and sisters, and we’ll do better…”
Now it’s 6:25 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, and I’m outside Hannaford in West Hurley, the first customer waiting, hoping, after a suggestion from an insider, to find some ever elusive items before the shelves get picked over. And yes…some hard to come by bananas, a box of pasta, some fruit that has just been racked…but, alas, no TP. Gather ye some leaves, Woodstockers, as they come forth this spring. It could be the new norm.
And don’t lose hope. Stay together. But six feet apart.