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Living in an isolated place was good preparation for social distancing

Leslie Campbell


March 22

ON THE TYEE I read about “Report 9” by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team. Its technical discussion of mitigation and suppression strategies for Covid-19 indicates that strict self-quarantine measures need to continue for about 18 months.

It is sinking in how life-as-we-knew-it is over. Will I ever see my mom again? How will our economies ever recover? Will there be food shortages at some point? How will democracy survive? Will people actually go globe-trotting again? (I once thought the climate crisis might stop them, but nope.)

David reminds me that it’s possible the virus could mutate to something less infectious, or less deadly. Let’s hope. And for a vaccine.



Leslie gathering nettles for dinner


On our walk through the forest, we traverse a logging road on which we meet a couple in a vehicle. The first humans we’ve seen in 10 days. They roll down their window to talk, David and I standing as far back as the narrow road allows. In introducing ourselves and describing where we live on the Island, I mention our wind generator and solar panels on the bluffs and they immediately know where we are and are interested in discussing how to manage off-the-grid themselves. David suggests they don’t bother with wind as solar is so much more reliable, and also that a small turbine on their creek would be good too. We have a very small creek on our acreage which dries up in the summer, but in winter provides a bit of welcome power when the sun doesn’t shine (but definitely no Netflix or vacuuming if there’s no sun for a couple of days).

The social contact feels good! We stocked up on groceries so well that we’ve had no need to go out for supplies since our arrival and likely for some time to come, though we should have got more cat food (Bullseye and Frodo, 9 months and always hungry).

The realities of a water-accessible-only property have got us in the habit of being well-provisioned with staples. Plus I have a small but productive vegetable garden which even now still has a lot of kale in it. And we’ve potatoes, carrots, beets and garlic stored from last summer’s harvest. Unfortunately my squash—a bumper crop—got moldy.

I have planted some lettuce and cabbage seeds and soon my peas. Unfortunately I did not stock up on aged manure or organic fertilizer so hope I can find some in the not-too-distant future. Or maybe for this year, the garden will manage with only my compost. Like others, I am letting go of certain rules and habits, quite easily, almost with a shrug.

Writing in New York Magazine, Andrew Sullivan, who lived through the AIDS epidemic, puts it this way: “Like wars, plagues can make us see where we are, shake us into a new understanding of the world, reshape our priorities, and help us judge what really matters and what actually doesn’t. Testing kits matter. Twitter not so much.”

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