WE’RE MUTATING!

We’re all being told to stay in place and communicate by Zoom, so I thought I’d give you a sense of my place right now.

Later this afternoon I plan to go to the Stone Soup Café and help in preparing tomorrow’s pick-up meal. Stone Soup isn’t changing its lunch into sandwiches; last I heard (we get the menu every Thursday or Friday) tomorrow’s meal is Mushroom Bisque, Avocado and Tomato Salad, Roast Spaghetti Squash, Rice, Black Beans and Pepper Steak,  and Coconut Macaroons.

Earlier this week I wondered if they’d get the same number of volunteers as usual (some 25-30 each week), so I emailed their leader Kirsten Levitt, and told her I’d come when she wanted me to. She asked me to come to prep today.

Some have already told me that it’s not a good idea, but I trust Kirsten to establish a firm protocol for how to do this as safely as possible. I’m curious how all this will be served as take-out tomorrow. I also notice that you can rsvp and tell them you need a delivery, and believe it or not, they’ll do it.

I’ll find out if they need help for that tomorrow. My 9-year-old red Prius is itching to go someplace. We have lots of low-income families that need food even in regular circumstances. They can’t be forgotten or overlooked at this time.

Yesterday I turned off a side street onto Rte. 47. Never heard a thing, but as I made the turn, I saw a small brown creature running down the road as fast as he could go. I hit the brakes. It was Harry, who’d just jumped out the window.

“Harry, where are you going?”

“Chick-en!” was all he yelled back as he rushed off towards a red-brown hen strutting in the back yard of a farmhouse.

“Harry!”

He chased the hen, who fluttered indignantly, and jumped her. I screamed his name once again, having meantime managed to turn around the car and sidle to the back yard. The hen lay on the ground, which was strewn with feathers, Harry’s jaws 2 inches away. But there must have been something in my voice (You’re a Dead Dog!)., because Harry turned towards me and pleasantly ambled over. Immediately the hen jumped up and disappeared. Harry looked like he’d grown a red beard with all the feathers around his mouth.

My local library called to tell me they have my volume of poetry by Barbara Hamby ready for pick up. “You can’t come in here,” they said, “but call ahead of time and we’ll take it out to you. We’ve cleaned it up and put it in a plastic envelope, so it should be okay.”

This is the kind of neighborhood I live in. Everybody asks how you’re doing; everybody wants to help. Except one.

“Aussie, why are you digging that big hole?”

“I’m off to China.”

“Why, Auss?”

“To learn how they ended the Coronavirus infection. It’s just a matter of time till I get it. Keep your distance, Miss Needy!”

“Stop calling me that, Aussie.”

“I don’t want to get sick from you.”

“Aussie, you can’t get sick from me, you’re a dog.”

“You don’t know nothing. This virus is really smart. Won’t take it much time to figure out how to climb the species ladder.”

“What does that mean, Aussie?”

“Go from an inferior species like you to a superior species like me.”

“Silliest thing I ever heard.”

“Corona knows; it’s building its way up to us. But don’t worry, Miss Needy, I know just what to do if I get it.”

“What’ll you do if you get it, Auss?”

“I’ll mutate.”

I realized then that that’s exactly what we humans are doing. We’re mutating in response to the virus. We’re taking more responsibility for each other, we’re careful about other people’s health and not just our own. We’re beginning to see that we’re one body—which is what the Corona seems to have grasped already. It goes from one to the other, as if skipping from one finger to another. It doesn’t discriminate between one ethnic group and another, Christians or Jews or Muslims or Hindus; it has no national preferences.

And in response, we’re mutating, too. We realize that each individual life depends on the whole, that the best way to protect our personal selves is for everyone to pull this thing together. It’s a beautiful thing to see us adjusting to our new reality, going online, helping others go online, buying food for those who can’t go to groceries or supermarkets, volunteering in droves for Meals on Wheels.

There are questions as to whether the virus can mutate, but people are beating Corona to it. We’re beginning to adapt and change our behavior—most of us without some huge enlightenment experience. That false sense of separation is dropping quicker than ever, and we know just what to do.