Pandemic forces neighbors to slow down, be creative, count their many blessings

While neighbors acknowledge the suffering of so many people during the world pandemic, some count their blessings for the opportunities the forced isolation has given them – to compose works of poetry, history or music, to take care of grandchildren, and just to listen to the birds singing.

To start her day, Jessica Bevins does yoga with her virtual partners, while at the same time FaceTiming the class with her longtime friend and yoga partner in Natomas (in iPad at bottom). Photo/Bruce Pierini

Jessica Bevins of Ninth Avenue recognizes that the pandemic has been a “terrible thing for a lot of people,” but says it “has been an absolute blessing for me. My life spun pretty heavy and I was not going to rein myself in anytime soon so the fact that I actually get up every morning and do a yoga class on FaceTime with a friend before I start my day is a game changer.

“Before all this happened, I didn’t have time for anything but work and I put people off who tried to connect with me because I just didn’t have time. Now I walk around and I look at the sky and I see the plants and I look at people’s yards and I just think it’s been such a blessing. I don’t ever want to go back to that hectic life.”

Peter Winslow of 25th Street says he and his wife Cheryl had committed to caring for grandchildren Lily, 3, and Marty, 1, before the pandemic. “By the second week in March, the kids’ daycare closed down due to the pandemic and we went from a part time role to full-time. Providing full-time childcare for Marty has been a blessing. For him to give us unsolicited kisses sent our hearts reeling. Sharing this time with him was amazing and we are so grateful to have had the opportunity. It was exhausting, but so rewarding. Our stint ended with their return to daycare. We miss them deeply.”

Kathy Les of Portola Way says she participated in National Poetry Month “by writing a poem each day of April – something I normally aspire to do, but never actually get to. The sense of things slowing down fueled me to spend more time cultivating my poetry brain.

“Shelter in place isn’t too different from our retiree lifestyle. But the world has slowed way down and I find the pause so needed for the earth and sky. I think we are all finding that things don’t have to be as speedy and demanding as they were before COVID-19. And I hope we’ve all learned to value home and family more. I love seeing all the dads in the park with their kids in the middle of the day, watching all sorts of neighbors I’ve never seen walk by my house, families bicycling together, blue sky, birds singing. And the flowers still grow, pandemic or not.

It’s been a healing and an inspiring time for us.” Greg La Traille of 10th Avenue says he is composing the last movement of a three-movement concerto for horn and string orchestra. “It’s basically a tuneful, light-hearted work though serious classical music. The French horn has a wonderful lyric sound.

I’ve used it much in my orchestral music and always wanted to write a concerto. I began it while serving as an assistant teacher at Camellia Waldorf School. Some of the youthful exuberance of the kids is in the concerto.”

He also recently completed a concerto for bassoon and orchestra, “which I also sketched out while at Waldorf and completed while sheltering during the pandemic.” The bassoon concerto can be heard on YouTube.

Eric Johnson of 26th Street says he has “become much more aware of the world above eye level, what with the profusion of western bluebirds, Cooper’s hawks, Black Phoebes and other avians just in a two-block radius. A new series of ‘peep peeps’ brought me to a Nuttall’s woodpecker nest at Fourth Avenue and 27th Street, and my son gasped in delight as mom and dad flitted back and forth, and the babies poked their heads out of the hole and took in their new world.” A neighbor struggling with Parkinson’s and the profound side effects of depression, anxiety and fear says she “welcomed the isolation. People like me are practically under mandatory doctors’ orders to force ourselves not to isolate, to socialize and be with people and, most important, to exercise. Yuk! With the quarantine, I actually had an excuse to stay in the house. I believe many of us are quite paranoid about getting sick while others flout mask requirements in public as if they’re immortal.”

Lori Tibbett of Markham Way is writing a memoir and family history. She is “secretly enjoying this time of shelter in place because life is so much quieter and there is time for some of the many items on my list for when I retired. I happened to retire just before this whole pandemic started, so I already had a list prepared. Of course, I feel guilty even verbalizing that I can enjoy this time because so many people are having such a terribly difficult time, and I miss my family ever so much, but if those things were taken out of the equation, truth be told it has been nice.”

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