Seeing Clearly Through this Pandemic Fog

Some of us here in Colorado woke to a foot of snow this morning. I’m not going to say there isn’t a certain beauty to spring snow—even when it is laying tulips flat and snapping branches on budding trees—but I confess my first thought was, “Oh come on, Mother Nature, you heartless witch. Don’t you know there’s a pandemic going on, and we’ve been in lockdown for over a month? Don’t you understand the only thing keeping me sane is my daily walk? Outside. In the fresh air. In the sunshine. Where I might spot another human being from a safe distance. Where I can travel my usual route through the neighborhood and pretend life is the same as it was before all this madness.”

And here I am writing about the virus again. I’d hoped to write about something else this week, but that doesn’t feel possible. Not a single aspect of our lives, not even something as simple as a walk, has been untouched by this monster. And while I recognize the good that is coming from our isolation and am extremely grateful for my many blessings, I feel like I’m losing track of what types of things I used to talk about or think about or care about, and I can’t recall most of the things I assumed I’d one day write about.

I think with the snow came a fog.

While I struggle to string two words together, people keep reminding me of all the works of genius that were created by master artists during times of their own isolation. But you know what? They probably would have created those works of art anyway. They were masters, after all.

And people keep reminding me this too shall pass. And that’s true, of course, but I can’t imagine when.

People keep saying that things will go back to normal, but no one can articulate what normal means anymore.

It’s all just so . . . foggy.

If you’ve ever gone skiing, you know that sometimes your goggles cloud over. I was a timid skier, and whenever my goggles fogged up, I’d head immediately in the direction I hoped was the most out of the way of other skiers and stop to lift the goggles from my eyes and get my bearings. Sometimes I’d discover with relief I was further down the mountain than I thought. Other times I’d realize how far I had to go. Other times, I wasn’t even sure where I was. As I wiped off my goggles with my scarf or glove, I’d glance around and see clearly my fellow skiers swishing by, I’d notice the snow bending the branches of pine trees, and the sunlight pushing through the clouds. I’d take a deep breath, pull the goggles back over my eyes, and head cautiously down the hill.

As today wore on, it finally stopped snowing and the sun came out. The restlessness and the pull of the outdoors got to me. We live on a main street in our subdivision, so the snowplow had come by. I said to my husband, “Let’s go! Let’s walk right down the middle of the street. With this pandemic, the rules are out the window, and there’s hardly any traffic anyway.” So, we did.

And in the beauty of a snowy, spring day, what did Roger and I talk about on our walk? The virus, of course. We caught each other up on the latest scary news briefings, but we also joked about how we didn’t need to shovel the driveway because there was no place to go.

As we walked, my sunglasses fogged up just a bit. This time, I didn’t rush to wipe them off. I realized I could see well enough I didn’t feel unsafe, well enough I could trust that I could get down this mountain without, for once, needing everything to be clear. I could be a little less timid than usual.

Sorry I yelled at you, Mother Nature. Once again, you have given me a gift.

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