Hope

I’m a sucker for trees.

Big trees, small trees, evergreens, deciduous, it doesn’t matter.  I am an equal opportunity tree hugger.  

My miniscule front yard boasts an old Southern Magnolia, a redbud and a ginormous crepe myrtle, the trifecta of hardy blooms greeting my gaze towards the heavens.  It’s absolutely delightful.

Although there’s not too many things better than a duet created as the wind sways between the leaves, the captivating sight illuminated after dusk by a faithful street lamp at the east corner of the yard, I have to say that these days, that the view I covet the most is of the human variety.

That may sound a little creepy, but hear me out.

During this health crisis, we have been instructed to self isolate, so, in an attempt to do our part at ending this invisible menace, Kurt and I have been pretty much keeping to ourselves since early March, and with the exception of our children and a few other close family members, have pretty much pushed the pause button on relationships, both professional and personal.

Well, we did get a little stir crazy at first, and thus came up with “Drive By Family Photos”, road tripping through the highways and byways of both Pope and Yell County, recording this moment in time, one family at a time. 

 We also offered “Drive Up Cap and Gown Photos, for the graduates whose final semester was atypical at best.

However, as the days grew into weeks, and the weeks grew into months, we ran out of social distancing photography ideas, which was fine because it seemed as if most folks were sinking into the cold reality that this wasn’t going away any time soon.  The newness had worn off; playing “happy” was over.

Smiles have been scarce this summer.

I miss them.

I went to mass the other day.  During a special prayer for the sick, Father Joseph mentioned those who were experiencing the Poverty of Isolation.  My heart sank, and tears welled as I thought about how agonizing suffering is, especially when it comes to the ravages of Covid-19, but, to suffer that alone, is unconscionable.  

And then I realized that I too had been dealt a milder form of this type of poverty.  

Inheriting my father’s gift of gab, I have heard amazing stories from strangers in the middle of the produce section at the Wal Mart.  (Yes, I am one of those guilty of blocking the aisles!)  Undoubtedly, some of our best traveling memories have happened in a bar in Boston, around a picnic table at an Arkansas State Park, or along a trail in the Richland Creek Wilderness, meeting both fellow travelers and local folk, tapping into an invaluable source of information, advice and, most importantly, smiles and laughter.  

Hopefully, we’ve not experienced the last of those types of memories.

For now, I am reconciled to the fact that, in the coming months, the Poverty of Isolation will end along with the pandemic, counting myself very fortunate these days to be able to sit on my front porch not only admiring my beautiful trees, but also giving a neighborly wave at all the beautiful people that pass by.

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