Walking in the Neighborhood in Covid-19 Times

A reflection by Hilary Hopkins, a member of FCC and Chair of Christian Formation

“Wanna walk?” I inquire of my husband. “Sure,” he says. And out we go.

Has there always been that much bird song, during the day, or is it just that now we can hear it, without the traffic noise? The bliss of silence fills our ears. A robin is heard, whinnying, and the squawk of a blue jay or several. I can hear the cardinal but not see him—oh wait, there he is, a spot of brilliant red in those branches up there.

We admire people’s little gardens, the shocking yellow of daffodils, some little purple crocuses, even a few early tulips. I have tulips in my small front yard too, but the rabbits which live across the street have eaten them to the ground. We notice magnolia trees ornamented by huge white flowers, and dainty pink redbuds, and the smelly white flowers on pear trees.

People are walking their dogs. My husband and I have a running joke about this. “You mean people have to walk the dog even in blizzards or sleet or hurricanes?!” I inquire in mock disbelief. “Well yes of course,” he replies. “The dog isn’t just going to, you know, cross his legs or whatever.” I knew there was a good reason to have a cat.

Here are some streets we have never been on. Shamelessly we gape at other people’s houses, point to interesting architectural details, speculate about costs, peer at things seen through the windows. The other day on our walk I began to notice lots of windows with groups of stuffed animals in them—and then later in the day read about how this is a thing. Kids go on scavenger hunts looking for stuffed bears in people’s windows, all over the country it seems. So when I got home I arranged three bears and a dog, sitting on pillows, in my office window, but alas when I went out to look, I found they could not be seen. I have left them there though, so they can see out.

I did color a large rainbow and taped it to our front door. Apparently that is another thing people are doing. Maybe the postman will enjoy it briefly, and others who come by on their daily walks. Also, when I was driving home from the market on Monday, I noticed a yard in which the people had put ALL of their blow-up holiday decorations—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter—and that is another thing lots of people are doing. I do love our inventive and silly species, sometimes, you know?

Have you noticed, when you take your own walks, that people are greeting each other? Saying hi, or smiling, or nodding at you, while carefully keeping their distance? Maybe when, if, this gets over, we will continue greeting each other when we meet. People say, “We are all in this together. When it is over, we will still all be in this, this world, together.”

Stay well. Take a little walk. Say Hi. Notice the bears and rainbows. Listen for the birds. Be aware of the cloud of witnesses—you can just hear them, a little, can’t you?