Our Corner of the World: March 2020

While my upcoming posts are all about what we’re working on during this pandemic within our little space of the world, I thought I’d share a little of what New Jersey looked like for us back in March.

Shutdown of Parks and Playgrounds

Within about two weeks of the pandemic epicenter in NJ, they closed down all of the local parks. We went from the hope we’d be back to school in two weeks and operating as normal once again, to facing grim realities of further restrictions. While I support and follow all we’ve been asked to do, because I personally do not want to spread a virus, this was pretty sobering when we could no longer go play at the playground. My heart ached to sit on that bench and watch my children swing in the sunshine.

Since then, they’ve hung more official printed signs shutting down the playgrounds and parks everywhere. No more running on trails or hiking outdoors. It’s the roads or nothing here.

It’s been over a month since anyone’s been on the swings. It’s sad, but also needed at this time as the first week we were stuck home this playground was jam packed with kids which isn’t safe either.

I long for the easy days of a walk to the park and playing for a half hour before dinnertime with the kids. I know they miss it as well. I’m unsure if or when that’ll ever occur again…

Bare Supermarket Shelves

When we went to the food store a week after everything was shut down, it was bare. The shelves were picked over, there was an anxiety in the air and hundreds of people all around scrounging for whatever they could find. It was my normal week to buy toilet paper… #facepalm.

This was the aisle of frozen vegetables in Wegmans. This aisle had the most still available, which wasn’t much at all. This raised my nervousness as to what life might look like for us for awhile. I was a bit panicked, as I know Chris and I have survived with our own food insecurity in the past, but with children it’s a different story now. We’ve had to explain that even though you don’t like that brand of “whatever” you have to eat it. There are no choices right now, only to eat what you have.

Food stores were picked over.

I had stopped being a bulk shopper years ago in the effort to focus on fresh food each week. Sure, we buy family packs, but we shopped every Friday for the coming week. The pandemic has changed that quite a bit, as we now buy a bit more than we think we’ll need (as I am sure everyone else has) in an effort to avoid the food store for a few weeks at a time.

I am not sure the Marie Kondo way of life makes any sense after this. In honesty, I got rid of a lot of things at the time I wished I hadn’t prior to this from her method and regretted it. In the past year, I haven’t been so “minimalist” about basic needs like shampoo as she suggests only having one… glad I have some extra to last us!

I or Chris’ had to go to different stores (Target, Walmart, Stop n’ Shop, and Wegmans) throughout the six weeks as various stores had different things to offer. So, each time we’d select a store and look to get what we could from just that one location. We’re also doing all of my mom’s shopping and pharmacy pickup, so we’ve had to find items for her as well.

The Reality

Toilet paper was gone, and is slowly coming back to store shelves. The normalcy of just walking into a store is no longer an option, but long lines of physical distancing are outside any store still open. Ordering for curbside no-contact pickup is now the only thing, and masks are everywhere we go now; as by law.

We talk to neighbors across the street instead of up close and personal. I haven’t shaken anyone’s hand in over six weeks. I miss hugging friends hello and goodbye. I didn’t even hug my mom for four weeks, but have given her a hug once or twice in the last month as we’re still delivering her groceries.

While I am naturally an introvert, it feels so unnatural not to shake someone’s hand, to smile without a mask covering, or to embrace someone. I’m thankful I have my family for touch and can snuggle with my children, but even I get nervous after I’ve gone to the food store to come near anyone in my house.

I feel the world has changed. The natural things we have done are not allowed anymore, and I think it’ll change how we behave in our corner of the world. Masks may be more acceptable during cold and flu season. I’m not sure when or how this will ever change in a positive direction, but I’m hopeful we’ll all come together to care for one another.

In the past week, things have looked a little more positive and less dire. We’ve been able to order delivery or pickup from local farms to avoid the larger grocery stores. That has been wonderful, as we can support local small farms, and it was so cool to have a milk man actually deliver milk in glass bottles!

How have you changed your shopping patterns since the pandemic?

2 thoughts on “Our Corner of the World: March 2020

  1. It is so strange to be living a whole different experience here. We have seen no shortages, most of the local workforce is still working in the local plants, oil and gas, chemicals and defense. Those places never shut down as they are considered critical and most of their people are working on site, only a few are working from home. We also have virtually no cases of covid19. Our parks and lakes are open, we take the boat out to fish every week. Spring turkey season opened as normal. We still run in the mornings with our running groups on our town streets. No inperson meetings right now, church, volunteer meetings and my consulting are all electronic but it seems to work at least as well as face to face. Life just feels very normal so far and it appears that nonessential businesses will start reopening this week. I know this has been a crisis for many but its almost not even a thing here.

  2. That sounds wonderful Steveark! Such a different contrast to what’s been happening here. Although, this week it feels more relaxed and settled, but still a bit of high alert. We have the 2nd highest cases in the nation I believe, and that’s with over 6 weeks of lockdowns. I can’t imagine if we didn’t stay home what it could be, but we are also in a very densely populated state which makes a huge difference, too. Stay sage and enjoy your runs and boating!

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