Did you hear that? It was just the morning chatter of birds in spring and the rustle of a neighbor’s flag in the breeze…nothing else. No cars. No people. The silence of a nation in quarantine. Beautiful, wonderful, peace and quiet…until K&M burst out of the house having just watched Yu-Gi-Oh! Now they are on our trampoline; bouncing and screaming at each other about what card they just played and the devastating effects on the other’s monster. Sorry neighbors, we have loud kids.
Did you see that? A tomcat on the terra cotta roof here and a street dog under an old Yugo there. What are the totals now? Every day during the week (not on the weekends) the kids are allowed out of their home for a two-hour window. We walk, or ride bikes, around our neighborhood and brother K now counts the number of cats and dogs he sees in a daily contest of numbers. Momma S is entranced by the love and care she sees our Macedonian neighbors put into their small side gardens. Gardens are located in so many pockets between the buildings, lovingly attended to by the aging seniors of this land. Pappa D chuckles as he notices the number of masks and surgical gloves that are hanging on the clothes lines, drying after the day’s washing. We see neighbors practicing amazing constraint by speaking to each other across their fences…except that house down there. Those three elder gentleman spend every day on the stoop, drinking rakija and Skopsko beer, laughing at the joke of this new world.
Did you smell that? Fresh earth, mowed grass, flowers blooming…where did all the pollution go? Ah, our neighbors are cooking something yummy, savory meat and roasted peppers waft through the air. And what is that…ah yes, there is a bit less showering and deodorant wearing going on too.
Did you taste that? Same damn food we have been cooking for six weeks now. What happened to the amazing Macedonian salads, the array of grilled meats and sheep cheese? Well, we don’t cook those things at home and there are no restaurants for us to go to. Pasta, rice, potatoes with a side of beans, chicken, hot dogs and broccoli or frozen mixed veggies. Some fresh produce from time to time…but we really do limit the frequency of our visits to the grocery stores and avoid the green markets completely these days. How is our wine supply? Still going strong; but dwindling weekly. But we do love the sweet taste of birthday cupcakes delivered to our home so that the boys can join their friends on Zoom and all celebrate the passing of a year for their friends.
Did you feel that? The warm feeling and excitement of connecting with friends in a Zoom room for Saturday night trivia; nine couples representing 5 different nations, all sheltering in place waiting for the borders to open and the flights to resume. The feeling of…peace; there is nowhere to go, there is nothing that needs to be done. I lay in my hammock, listening to the silence, warm spring sun on my skin, and gentle sway for a mid-afternoon nap. Then the anxiety…the anxiety of not knowing. Yes, we will cancel our Balkan road trip; but, what about our vacation home to see our family this summer? What will the summer look like? What will next year look like? Feeling the surprising exhaustion of an elementary PE class from my living room; and feeling the satisfaction of sleeping in because my morning work commute is now just a meter in length from my bed.
What are your snapshots?