Cookie's Bliss The Virus

The Hammer Dance, with Flowers

Week 12. I can tell from the traffic patterns that we’ve begun our dance with death. On May 8th, North Carolina cautiously began reopening, with limited access to retail and church services, and plans to venture into Phase 2 at the end of this week.

I’m calling the reopening a dance based on an article by writer and researcher, Tomas Pueyo, in which he referred to virus suppression strategy as a hammer and a dance. We’ve done the hammer part — locked ourselves down tight to starve the virus of vectors and flatten the curve — and now we begin the dance. We’ll venture out, and when infections spike, we’ll retreat. Open, die, retreat — one step out, one step back, skipping over wet sand, flirting with the waves in a hurricane.

Bob and I are sticking with the hammer phase until a vaccine becomes available. He’ll continue working from his back room office while l pretty up our gardens, harvest greens, launder sheets, walk the woods, and talk on the phone from our hammock. Day after day. The hammer looks like retirement sans walks with my friends. I feel as if I am caretaking an expensive resort with only two guests.

Our spring flowers are always over-the-top robust. I refresh our vases daily, like Marta did for the lodge we managed in Belize. I would watch her in admiration and envy as she wandered the grounds in search of beauty. And now I am Marta, making beds, kneading dough, and stalking fresh blooms with my pruners held high like a divining rod.

The highways roared to life as soon as the governor announced Phase 1, and logging trucks began spraying bark shards on the strip of lawn out front.

I push a weed and twig-laden wheelbarrow up there to add a layer of auburn crumbs. I’m startled by the slipstream, a gale that follows each giant truck. No speed limit today. Everyone seems determined to make up for lost time.

I park the barrow and dart across the lawn between bursts, plucking bark, tucking pieces into my sweatshirt. A semi roars by and I turn to see the wheelbarrow flip into the ditch. One step forward, one step back. Cha cha cha.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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