Coronavirus diaries: It’s so quiet

The clean water of the Willamette River reflects the clear blue, clean skies that are one of the effects of the coronavirus shutdown.

Have you noticed the quiet? I certainly have. Every morning, as the pale-peach tinge of dawn displaces the slate-blue night lying between dark silhouetted tree tops, I lie in bed and listen to birds calling. There are so many of them, and their calls are so varied, each distinct from the next.

I can’t remember many places with such bird-filled dawns. Papershali, Uttarakhand, where we lived too far from the road to hear any traffic. Vancouver Island, just a few minutes’ walk from the shoreline of Haro Strait. The Olympic National Forest, the summer my sister and I went backpacking together. There may be other places I’m not remembering just now, but one thing I do know: It’s rare to wake up to the complete absence of sound from cars, trucks or trains.

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Coronavirus diaries: Yes, I’m baking

Look at this texture!

Like everyone else, I’ve been baking since we stopped being able to travel, meet with friends, go to coffee shops, go to bookstores or do much of anything else outside the home (other than taking long walks). I just invented a new muffin recipe (based on one I found online) that I think is absolutely delicious, so I’m sharing it here. It contains no eggs, because I can’t eat eggs, so I hope anyone else who avoids eggs will find and enjoy it. I’ll also provide some notes on how to make the recipe completely vegan.

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Coronavirus diaries: staying connected while socially distancing

I should start by saying the term “social distancing,” seems all wrong to me. A friend said the other day on Facebook that we really should call it “physical distancing,” because that’s what it needs to be: the keeping of a safe physical distance between us to avoid catching, or transmitting, the coronavirus.

But we shouldn’t be socially distant – not at all. In fact, we should make greater efforts to be socially close right now: smile at one other, say it’s a lovely day, stop for a friendly chat. You can do all of that at a distance of six, even eight feet – and it’s nourishing to exchange energy with our fellow humans.

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Eclipse 2017

IMG_4024This is the first eclipse I’ve seen since 1980. I’d just arrived in Delhi, and the family I was staying with refused to let me go out of the house. “You’ll get sick,” they said.

Today’s eclipse was a party. People started gathering in Tom McCall Waterfront Park quite early; as Alan and I walked over the Hawthorne Bridge into downtown, we could see clusters of people settled down with bright blankets, paper coffee cups and white pastry bags in hand.

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