Journal of the Plague Year: Play ball!

Posted Sunday, March 22, 2020 in News

Journal of the Plague Year: Play ball!

Rudie and Gracie in a meadow near Acadia National Park.

by Gina Hamilton

March 22, 2020

The news isn't great. In fact, it's worse than not great. People in Maine are dying; schools are expected to be closed indefinitely, earliest possible return is April 27 and it could be well beyond that; there are daily painful requests for personal protective equipment for hospitals as doctors and nurses get sick treating patients with coronavirus; there is a run on toilet paper and disinfecting wipes and almost every food item you can imagine; people throughout the state are hunkering down and not leaving home.

The baseball season has been postponed. Perhaps indefinitely.

It's eerily quiet in Bath, and I imagine elsewhere as well, as the worried well distance themselves from one another and even kids don't go out to play.

But there have been bright spots. Many employers -- looking at YOU, Starbucks -- have stepped up for their employees and are offering a month's catastrophe pay, whether the stores have to close or not. Neighbors are helping neighbors out with grocery store runs and tutoring kids who aren't cut out for homeschooling (or their parents aren't). People are being kinder in the shops, it seems to me, and everywhere, people are sharing what they have and using social media and the telephone to stay in touch despite the inability to get together in person. There is time, every day, for second breakfast.

And then there are the dogs.

Our dogs are used to us leaving and coming back at regular intervals, but they love us beyond all reason. And having us home 24/7 seems like heaven on earth to them. Far from becoming more aloof than they used to be, they seem to want, if anything, more attention from us.

Play ball! Take a long walk! Let us sit on your lap! We'll come with you everywhere you go, even if it's just to the bathroom! Can we have a treat? Play ball!

In Maine, at least now, the parks are open, the streets are empty, and the land trusts are greening up. There is something about a dog that forces you to be present, to give your little darling all your focus. Let the cares of the moment melt away in those liquid brown eyes. Remember that you are the center of their little universe. Don't be afraid to be the shining star they firmly believe you to be. There will be plenty of time later to worry about the virus and how the bills are going to be paid. Spend the time now to be there for your little buddy, and give him or her or them everything they've given you all these years.

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