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COVID-19 Makes Our Lives Resemble Rural Wisconsin In 1960s

April 6, 2020

A recent news story on the business pages noted that jigsaw puzzles are hard to come by when desiring to be purchased online. A local posting on our neighborhood site asked if anyone had a 1000 piece puzzle for a loan during the pandemic. On Facebook, I have read postings between friends about new recipes and inquiries into interesting authors that might be explored as we all spend more time indoors.

These are new and trying times for a society that has always known the ability to head out to the movies, grab a burger at your favorite diner, make plans for weekend outings, and vacations across the land.  The necessity of self-distancing, and the medically required and responsible way of removing ourselves from one another during this pandemic, requires that we again find a way of living and enjoying ourselves.  All this is proving to be most disconcerting for younger generations who have never known such boundaries.

I recall a phone conversation with one of my favorite aunts, Evie Beggs of Hancock, who said that today’s youth just have no idea what it was like to grow up in the country decades ago.  There was usually only one car in the family and the breadwinner was using it. While there were after school activities they were limited to basically band, sports, and the scouts.  There was much more reliance upon the family to provide entertainment and togetherness and mutual support.

Having grown up in the country I see the stark difference between my childhood and what takes place for children growing up today on the Madison isthmus, where I now live.  Modern parenting often has children engaged in a plethora of activities so it would seem they never have downtime, to be alone and creative.  All of a sudden, due to COVID-19, everyone is getting a glimpse of rural life in the 1960s.

All that we have taken for granted in our day-to-day lives has been suspended, for how long we do not know. It will require all of us to discover, or rediscover as the case may be for older people, ways to relax, reduce stress and find enjoyment. While young people may come to appreciate board games and the pleasure to be discovered between the covers of books, it is also possible that older people might find new avenues of enjoyment.

While I am tech-savvy, even to the point of podcasting from our home, I admit to being on a learning curve as a result of self-distancing. This past week, for the first time I used my iPad to communicate via Messenger.  For an hour I chatted it up with a professor friend in Slovakia as we each sat at home, in our respective countries, following government guidelines, and looked at each other after years of distance. My day-to-day life, pre-pandemic, had so many social interactions it never seemed necessary to chat on-line.

This is a challenging time for everyone and is truly historic and remarkable for the extent to which it has brought nations around the globe to a standstill.  If we are prudent with our behavior and follow the guidelines we can stem the rise of this pandemic, and bend the curve of increased cases. In the meantime, if we use our time wisely we can learn new things, explore the world via the internet such as with virtual tours of countless museums, try new recipes and enjoy books that have lingered on our shelves.  Best of all we can explore all these things with those who are close and most dear to us; those who reside in our own homes.

Stay safe.  We will defeat this virus.

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