As part of my reduction in time spent on social media I’ve inactivated my Instagram account resolving instead to share them here with somewhat longer stories than I might share there.
I haven’t been in a motor vehicle since early March and I’m surprised at how easy it is to do everything by bicycle or on foot. Not only that, the exercise puts me in an excellent state of mind. As I ride I see people out and about alone and in groups. Even though many are wearing masks and practicing physical distancing, it still makes things feel a little bit more normal than they do from 400 feet above the city looking only at what I see through this computer’s monitor. There are smells of trees, flowers, and even food from restaurants and backyard barbecues. Often there are other cyclists and many of us exchange waves even though we don’t know each other. I like that exchange of goodwill “Hey – we are similar humans in at least one day. I hope you’re well!” we say with our hands. Sometimes at crosswalks pedestrians crossing in front of me will say hello or thank me for waiting. These little momentary interactions with strangers are really precious now. Little doses of humanity that, like the feeling of the sun on my arms and the smell of freshly-mown grass outside are like a little bit of medicine to combat the feelings that build up as we all shelter in our homes.
The pet store I go to today is lovely. During more normal times, when we stopped in people would say hello to us. Though we don’t know each other’s names, we do recognize each other. Then, as we bend down to pick up a bag of cat food, very often, Rupert, a friendly boy cat will leap on our shoulders and ride there for the rest of our time in the store. When we get to the front we put our cat food on the counter and put Rupert down next to it though truth be told we would love to just have him come home with us.
Now, with the pandemic, many people are having financial troubles as their jobs end. Food banks are in greater use now as humans rely on them more to get what they need. This pet store also recognizes that affording pet food is also difficult for others so they’ve set up a fund for helping people get their pet food during this time. Though we have a chain pet food store only a 5 minute bike ride from home (as opposed to the 15-20 min one to get here), it is just this sort of community support that makes us want to support local independent businesses. This is how communities are built and sustain themselves even in hard times. If you have the choice between supporting a local business that contributes to your community or doing an online order from a major retailer, do consider taking the extra effort to support local businesses. Even though you may not realize it, they’re supporting you.