Report from Louisiana: Passing Time

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Because COVID-19 was not enough drama, tornadoes ripped through the South on Easter Sunday, leaving 19 dead at last count. The band of storms had been anticipated and talked about for days and days before the event; they blew up over Texas over the weekend and rolled into Louisiana around dawn, moving on across the southern states throughout the day. Seems like it happens here every Easter.

Like the rest of the nation, we remain sheltered in place, although people interpret that with various degrees of fidelity. Grocery stores, WalMart, and garden centers remain quite crowded. Some stores around here are limiting the number of folks allowed inside at one time, but not all of them.

The tone of the quarantine seems to be changing; more and more people are calling for businesses to reopen. The initial fear of the pandemic seems to be easing and now people want their liberties back. Personally, I’ve cleaned out every closet, pantry, and drawer, scrubbed the baseboards, polished the furniture, weeded every flower bed, brushed the dog, and eaten a gallon of BlueBell Ice Cream (Cookie Dough Overload). I’ve gained five pounds. I’m thinking of taking up yoga; those yoga pants are really comfortable.

I’ve met more people in my neighborhood than I have in the thirty years I’ve lived here – from six feet part, of course. I have one across-the-street neighbor who doesn’t come outside much but pops open his front door every day, looks around, waves, then goes back inside. My next-door neighbor fires up his blower and blows his driveway every single day, at least once. Sometimes more than once. I spend a lot of time watching the dog a couple of doors down dig holes in his front yard, tail happily wagging. There’s another guy across the street who sits in his big picture window every day, just watching the neighborhood. He waves when you look over there. There’s neighborhood bar at the end of my street and I can see the owner sitting outside alone on the deck sipping a beer and watching traffic.  Lots and lots of people are walking; with gyms closed, people are trying to get their exercise any way they can.

I can not fathom the economic toll this is all going to have. I totally understand all of the worry and angst about the economy and it’s going to take a far better mind than mine to figure out how we come back from this, but I know one thing: we will. There’s no other option. We will.

Once we all get back to work, we will be doing the Monday morning quarterback routine on how all of this has been handled and there will be blame, fault, and second guessing all around. It will be a political mess. I hope that as Americans we will be able to pull together instead of apart, and get ourselves back on track to prosperity, and I hope we do it with kindness and a new appreciation for what we have.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

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