Visual arts writer Kent Behrens, wife Tracy and pet Ruby “paws” for a family selfie before their daily exercise outdoors.

A while before this particular coronavirus circumstance graced our lives, I shuffled through a pile of books I wanted to read, several of which I had started at one time or another. Barely started, as all had only a few pages turned, and out of procrastination, preoccupation, or boredom, in each I lost interest. I landed on one in particular this time, In Search of Time, by popular science writer Dan Falk.

It sat for a few weeks by my bed, no hurry of course, and in late January I finally got to it. Just a few pages into it, finally, and I again found myself plastered in front of the TV and the Internet, getting tutored on the COVID-19 situation. I couldn’t get enough of it. Several press conferences, conspiracies, grocery-and-toilet-paper trips later, I am finally back to the book.

 Falk starts in with early humans having no real concept of time beyond celestial events and seasons. No clocks or calendars, no future or past, just Now. Later, he continues, came the concept of dividing time into months, then weeks and days, giving some structure to the passage of time.

 Calendars, and eventually crude, and then elaborate, clocks were developed dividing the days, directing plantings and harvests, and marking religious ceremonies. This provided a reference finally to a past and the future, something to point to.

 Currently, there is much discussion about time surrounding the coronavirus and our response. Ventilators and masks are needed yesterday, you are contagious 48 hours before symptoms show, the virus lives for hours on cardboard, days on plastic. Some people linger for days only to die suddenly, or more often, recover. The testing is not being performed fast enough. How many months to a vaccine? Trump took too long, Cuomo needs more PPE, stat. Most lately, we endure new and sage advice about restarting the economy, rebooting the system. Now? May 1st, June 15th?

That’s as far as I have progressed in Falk’s book, which was published in 2008; about a third of the book. A lesson in there? Maybe. An analogy to present conundrums? That’s probably to be determined. Just seems to correspond to the current events. And like you, I have a lot of time on my hands. Time enough for at least a few observations:

 How many dog-walks a day is too many?

 I’ve made three different chicken salads so far, and damn, if I can’t say each one better than the last. I should probably eat something else.

 I watch too much News. I watch local, national, PBS, Fox, CNN, OAN, CNBC, Newsmax, maybe others; I don’t want to miss anything, (as each tells me the other ones are fake.)

 I figured out things on my Smart TV that I never knew existed.

 There are an awful lot of weird videos on YouTube. And I now subscribe to some of them.

 Being sequestered and unemployed is The Great Amplifier. A refresher course in observation and appreciation, from diet to relationships, from hygiene to paint adhesion.

 Note to self: Try today to do something creative, constructive, or at least culinary.

 After a recent move and downsizing downtown by my wife and I, there is still furniture to be rearranged and boxes in our storage unit to be gone through. I am way behind in my French lessons. I should exercise. I need to call and catch up with several relatives and friends. As a photo artist, I will spend some quality time in the darkroom. It will be nice to have my wife around during the day, for a change. No, really.

 So, there is much to occupy my time, but what’s the hurry? You know that trope; “in the meantime.” That unforeseen period of time spent while waiting for something else to happen, where we end up doing something else, something usually unrelated to the task at hand. At the onset, the “something else” is seemingly meaningful or substantial, at least in need of doing.

 It appears, we have had a new meantime forced upon us. I, like you, don’t remember being asked. It was just applied. Some of us probably saw this as a time to home in on a specific hobby, polish a resumé, or even learn something new. Some, sadly, had to deal with the disease head on, or deal with loss of loved ones, or job and income.

 There is that worry of getting sick and ending up hospitalized, COVID-related or not, and about what to hoard, how to pay the bills. But how hard is it to mask-up and maintain a fathom or two of spacing? That’s the easy part. Initially I thought it might last up to two or three weeks, and assuming I stayed healthy, I could get a lot done. Ok, four weeks. Ok, two to three months. Who’s counting?

 As it turns out, much of my days have been spent trying to figure out the maze of the unemployment application process. If you have had to do this, the unemployment thing, my heartfelt sympathies.

 The dog thinks we are insane. Several walks a day, some for no apparent reason. So here I sit, four weeks or so into the “shut down.” I have dabbled in some of the bigger plans I had, but really never got thoroughly involved in anything solid yet. I should work on my French lessons. I should go out and shoot some photos around downtown. However, in the meantime, the dog…


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