Bruce and I have been self-isolating in our apartment since March 16, two days before Governor Jay Inslee ordered Washingtonians to stay at home after the coronavirus outbreak shut down Seattle. Fifty days and counting. The stay-at-home order will be lifted at the end of May.

Downtown boulevards are almost bare, businesses boarded, parks closed, Pike’s Place Market is empty. Bruce is working from home. Instead of commuting on the bus, he walks across the kitchen. He is stationed at the dining table with high-speed Internet and my laptop is set up at the breakfast counter. Working diligently together, we take breaks for snacks and lunch. I also read a lot, which is another way of saying, I nap.

Sonny Bone’O and I walk every day, rain or shine, zigzagging across streets when someone approaches, keeping our germs to ourselves.  There is usually a warm “hello” or “good morning” exchanged, a friendly nod, refuting what was once described to me as the “don’t-bother-me Seattle freeze.” A woman in her garage made a special point to greet me; “I just need to talk to someone,” she said.

Last week, Lake City placed “Street Closed: Stay Healthy” signs  in our residential neighborhood to block the roundabouts and limit traffic―local access and deliveries only.  Streets remain open, “for people to walk, roll, bike, run, and skate.” Not unpleasant to have fewer cars, but life is upside-down.

Spring without baseball feels unnatural. We stash toilet paper under the bed and mask-up to shop at the supermarket once every two weeks during 7 a.m. “senior hour,” maintaining social distancing in lines outside until given the all-clear to enter. Food shortages. Whenever I see pasta, I grab a couple of boxes. It’s a good thing Total Wine & More delivers.

Ancestry research occupies my afternoons and reminds me there is a beginning, middle and end to hard times.  My children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are well so I can’t complain, although I miss the library’s monthly book readings and conversations. Native author Tommy Orange cancelled his Seattle Reads appearance at our branch to discuss his novel, There There. I was looking forward to meeting him.

Meanwhile, the Seattle sun still shines, and people are outside planting. Flower beds bloom riotously. Perennial herbs return in yards next to spinach, kale, arugula and rhubarb. New raised beds are being built, filled with black earth, and grass is replaced with neat rows of vegetable seeds. I never miss the opportunity to compliment the gardeners on their work. I would really like to pick up a shovel and lend a hand.

© Janis Monaco Clark