I felt as a perpetual motion machine frozen. The other day, I wrote:
Being an historian leads to strange meanderings – my mind sweeps to black plague-wrecked Europe. Memories of an exhibit of a book of hours (richly illuminated medieval manuscript). A manuscript created by brothers – whose families are wiped away by that particular horseman of the Apocalypse – twine into the plague-cry “bring out your dead.” Or from the transcript of the American Experience (PBS) episode, “Influenza,” about the 1918 “Spanish” flu:
In Philadelphia, death carts roamed the city. It was a scene from the time of the Black Plague.
FERREL: So many people died until they were instructed to ask for wooden boxes and to put the corpse, the people on the front porches. An open truck came through the neighborhoods and picked up the bodies.
NARRATION: Still, the dead sometimes lay in the gutters, abandoned.
NARRATION: Over at Potter’s Field, they began to use a steam shovel to dig trenches. For graves. Mass graves.
NARRATION: Over 11,000 people would die in Philadelphia alone that October. American Experience: Influenza
My usual aches, sniffles, “caffeine cough,” seem magnified. My panxiety is roller-coasting.
So, I nap like a cat; curled on a love seat (not my own; half-borrowed) with heating pad, wrapped in a woolen shawl, radio to drown the white noise. Try not to key into words, just the hum of voices and music.
Then an email sets the cogs and wheels spinning: a blood drive at the YMCA where I am a member. Consult. Click. Click. Commitment. Sense of inner calm.
Giving blood is considered an essential community service. As part of our nation’s critical infrastructure, healthy individuals can still donate in areas that have issued shelter in place declarations. redcrossblood.org
You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement. U.S. Surgeon General
So today I helped top up the blood supply. I am 0 negative – the universal donor.
Now, a little less rusted into place. Sun shining; fresh air and movement. Giddy circles of bubbles in the back yard.
Life in the time of virus includes stories of amazing bravery, community kindness, bursts of creativity, innovation, ingenuity, connecting, concern for family, friends and for neighbours and strangers. A tapestry of social media as linking the islands of isolation. I try to focus on these images; letting the encouraging sounds of people singing on their balconies be louder than tolling bells and cries of “bring out your dead.”
Some of the women I have featured to date during woman’s history month, are part of the vocal life narrative due to times of duress. Such as Laura Secord to Pauline Vanier – volunteers in a timeline of war. Others voices sing songs of everyday. There are still heritage minutes, and women’s life narratives to share.
*oatcakes & snowdrops: Canadian women’s history, one minute, one moment @ at time . .
Google Maps has even created a “Rainbow Connection” map, where children can find other homes participating in the activity — putting a rainbow in your window to cheer up folks passing by/across the street