I started some weeks ago looking around to assess which of my neighbors in this raggletag neighborhood might be elderly and in need of extra support in this time of social distancing. Then I realized I’m elderly too…a little, around the edges, you might say. The idea made me smile, because of its sheer absurdity.
I may have arthritis and a skunk-streak of silver in my formerly black hair, but I can swing a pick axe to dig out a new vegetable bed, just fine. I can do hours of field work on my garden, or hours in the studio, or hours at the computer writing a novel, and it’s all work, and feels pretty good until the end of day, when some joints are impolite enough to comment on excessive enthusiasm. Spoilsports.
One thing I figure I can do is to keep my give-away bin streetside filled with citrus and fresh hot peppers. Washington navels, Fremont tangerines, Eureka lemons, Minneola tangelos, Trovita navels and Roberts, kumquats and Mexican limes. Sometimes strawberry guavas as well. I’m picking with disposable gloves on and not washing the fruit, and I put out a short note on the box telling the public I’m using gloves, also requesting people to select with their eyes and take all that they touch.
Now the local hospital is calling for not only factory-made masks, but home sewn ones. Another new job, and so I started thinking about how many pleats I should put in and whether I could insert a new twist tie to help the wearer mold the nose more tightly. Then I read an article https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/4/e006577 and quote from it here “Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%”. So, no wonder they speak of the false sense of security that anything under a N-95 mask gives.
Thinking the project over, I believe it still makes sense to sew and donate masks. Here’s my thinking– over all, these masks protect not the wearer but the others who meet with that wearer. So if every suspected case upon entrance to the ER dons one, this may help protect the ER staff, our most valued resource. And if I can figure out how to do a fast turnaround, I might be able to create enough of these to preserve half a box worth of medical masks for the medical staff or the intake volunteers. Every mask counts.
It’s a storm, and a long one. It’s a war. Maybe every generation needs a war to start to think more widely about community. I could wish we didn’t need it, but I am seeing some truly inspirational behavior among my neighbors and strangers.
This generation possibly more than any of the past may need to understand this and pass it on to their successors… the evolutionary fact that, that when there are this many of any one species populating the earth, pandemics are inevitable.
We cannot stand alone any longer, believing we can be independent and rugged posing against the sun, because there’s always someone else in sight… hopefully at least six feet away.