Beyond now

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Sunny skies. People waving from the edges of their yards, where they’ve been pulling out weeds and raking out sticks and leaves as though such action could cure us all of the novel coronavirus. The forsythia’s bloomed, some shoots are already green. The daffodils remind us of the fleeting aspect of transient things.

Outside Hannaford’s and Sunflower, Woodstock people enter the store dressed like aged bandits, masked and behatted, gloves on their hands so no fingerprints get left. Other stores and take-out spots allow customers in one by one. Masked employees bring their orders out. Eyes smile.

“We’re all in this together,” reads the occasional upbeat sign next to the Covid 19 warnings on locked doors. Some stores for rent or sale are papered over. Auto-repair shops, even car lots, look busy. Employees are masked.


Bread Alone’s main bakery in Ulster has a full parking lot.

We stand apart outside some old friends’ homes, me by my car, they on the porch. I let the dog out to play. We watch. Running dogs racing between trees unfettered gives us the sense of the greater freedom we’d all like to have.

I ask son Milo about the last day the basketball hoops were up. He shrugs. It was nice, he concedes.

He and his friends are spending more time socializing online than ever before, playing Fortnite and other games anyone suggests, keeping abreast of each others’ feelings, quarantine responses (and jokes), and dreams of a life beyond now.

I’ve played what I consider classics on the way out: Today it was Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On. Sergeant Pepper, too.

Milo feeds his playlist into the car’s Bluetooth. I try hard-rapping.

“Stop. Just stop,” he orders, pausing the song.

We both laugh. Lessons learned.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.