“The wilderness reminds us that we humans are temporary custodians of lands held in trust for future generations. Wild places accentuate geological time, reassuring us that present crises will pass — but also impressing upon us the need to address long-term assaults that would be irreversible.” Nicholas Kristoff
Students are back in Harrisonburg, which means traffic backups and crowded stores. It does not feel safe, so we are trying to escape as much as possible.
Thus, we are back at the farm, where the view of a vast front field, green with rain, and the sound of the stream beyond it don’t change. As Kristoff points out, it gives us a sense of perspective in the present multiplying crises. That doesn’t mean it allows us to opt out, only to keep from being totally wiped out by them.
I’m not sure whether having covid in the background all the time makes other crises seem bigger or smaller. Right now my brother’s house in Santa Cruz, California, is threatened by fire, a good friend is terminally ill, and we found out my mother’s assisted living facility has care issues. On top of that the election looms, two hurricanes threaten the Louisiana coast this week, etc, etc. Here in Syria I can unplug to a certain degree. Back to the fray soon, though, as the election could not be more important.
Classes start on Wednesday this week. Here is how it will look: students will follow markings in the halls showing what direction to walk in to avoid crowds. In the classroom, they will sit in designated desks six feet away from each other and wear masks. This means most classes will have half as many students as usual. Teachers will stand at the front behind plexiglass wearing a mask and face shield. They will record the class for those who can’t be present. Microphones will amplify their voices in some classrooms. I have opted for online teaching, so I don’t have to worry about all this, thank goodness. It has all taken massive planning and resources, and is likely to collapse after the first week or two as numbers of cases rise. Maybe I am being pessimistic, but that is what has happened at so many other schools. In the meantime, we are staying in the country.