By Karene Horst
I started eating my canned soup back in February. It’s an annual thing, clearing out my stockpile I’m supposed to maintain for that massive earthquake allegedly poised to level California or sink it into the Pacific. As the emergency response folks suggest, I’m usually equipped to survive about two weeks on bags of dried pasta, organic black beans and stacks of Progresso soup, mostly lentil, and a collection of bottles filled with stale water. Once a year I try to swallow it down before a routine resupply, thus prolonging the shelf life of my dinners for disaster.
Then the March Madness of COVID-19 hit our local store shelves and now I’m eyeing my cache and wondering if I need to start rationing myself to only two meals a day. I could afford to lose a few pounds and maybe this worldwide frenzy beats a week at an expensive fat farm.
I couldn’t take any of this too seriously until yesterday when they shut down the ski resort two miles from my home. Bundled in my winter togs complete with goggles and gloves and usually a scarf over my mouth, I could harmlessly shred the slopes without contracting anything other than a sore muscle. The goal of snowboarding or skiing is to AVOID close contact with other humans. Breathing fresh mountain air. I couldn’t have felt safer or posed less risk to anyone.
Shut inside at home now I’m immersed in the overwhelming litany of media reports on the virus. Some patients gasp their last breath in hospital beds surrounded by overworked health care providers in hazmat suits while other infecteds cheerfully Youtube their experience quarantined at home declaring “it’s really not that bad.” Then there’s Italy …
Most of us won’t face the horror of hospitalization even if we do succumb to the dreaded fever. Millennials are snidely hashtagging about “Boomer Remover” before hitting the clubs. But every person on this planet that isn’t lucky enough to die from this illness will suffer the aftermath of the economic meltdown. We are facing another worldwide Great Depression. Remember hearing about the last one? It ended with World War II. We’re already primed with the appropriate mixture of xenophobia and rampant ignorance. Nationalistic leaders here in the U.S. and across the globe have effectively grabbed the ball and are running with it. China’s government now proclaims the US military created the virus. And sad to say, it wouldn’t surprise me one damn bit if that’s true.
Maybe it’s time. Mother Nature is finally striking back against a parasite that is decimating her creation. Killer tornadoes, droughts obliterating food sources, melting glaciers on target to drown coastal cities. Supposedly the virus started at a seafood market in Wuhan, China, where wild animals are sold for food or other sick purposes that only humans can devise. The devastation mankind continues to unleash upon this planet and its other inhabitants makes me want to root for Mother Nature even if her win only results in my own suffering and demise. And it appears her defensive moves are making headway: scientists note a drop in air pollution over virus epicenters under lockdown.
I could continue to buy into the hysteria. Panic shopping on Amazon until the internet implodes or the electricity fizzles out. But I won’t. I’m going for a hike. It’s a beautiful sunny day outside. I’ll go by myself or if a friend joins me we’ll maintain the prerequisite 6-foot distance. We’re all dying in one way or another. We just don’t know when or how. So instead of focusing on the unknown inevitable I’m going to enjoy every second I’ve got left on this planet. At least until the toilet paper runs out.