This summer’s harvest from our garden has been the best I can remember.
The raspberries were so-so, the blackberries plentiful, and the blueberries abundant. The tomato vines extend well out of their cages and there appears to be a bumper crop in various stages of ripening. Some will be eaten with leaves from the adjacent basil plants. The green beans grew quickly. The eggplant is yielding fruit and the sweet potatoes are spreading out (I am a fan of neither). The okra, cantaloupe, cucumbers and herb patch look healthy. “My private Iowa” disappointed, yielding only several stunted ears of corn. After failing to grow last year, the sunflowers have reached impressive heights.
Pardon the agriculture report, but since early March my life has centered around writing in my office, housework, and tending to the plantings in the back and front yards. I figuratively sweat writing my column and articles and literally sweat in the garden. Particularly in recent years, while working from home, my appreciation for the garden has grown. Digging, hoeing, watering and picking weeds takes my head out of my work, away from exposure to the news, and from how COVID-19 has circumscribed my life.
The surgeon who removed a tumor last July and oversees my cancer treatments says that I have taken the necessary precautions for someone with a potentially compromised immune system.
I have made a few forays off the premises, always masked and mindful of social distancing. I am over the disappointment of a canceled trip in March to France and Spain but remain hopeful of spending at least a few days in Maine, at the cabin by the lake in the woods, where social distancing is part of the charm.
The COVID-19 news makes optimism challenging. As doctors have gained experience treating the virus and have more tools at their disposal, the trend line in Georgia for deaths is downward. But as younger, healthier adults contract the virus, the rates of confirmed cases and hospitalizations have reversed course and headed upward.
And I continue to explain to family and friends elsewhere in the country the broad gulf that exists in Georgia over COVID-19.
There are Georgians who trust the guidance of doctors who have invested years in their particular fields, who understand that even as science is evidence-based, experts have experienced a learning curve in dealing with virus since it emerged in China late last year.
Then there are those who downplay its severity and resent how COVID-19 has altered their routines and inconvenienced them, displaying their ire by proclaiming that they will boycott – and, in some cases, walking out of – businesses that require customers to wear masks.
Masks also have become a back-to-school flashpoint. Parents are concerned that their K-12 children will (or won’t) be made to wear masks. Meanwhile, sustained criticism by faculty, staff and students led the University System of Georgia to reverse course and require the wearing of masks in classrooms and campus buildings, in line with many of Georgia’s private colleges and public university systems in other states.
Speaking of education, I am impressed by the number of Georgians who are both epidemiologists and constitutional scholars. These folks have a remarkable depth of knowledge, gained through countless hours spent assiduously cherry-picking social media posts.
They speak as if the response to COVID-19 at the federal, state, county, and local levels is some sort of conspiracy rather than taking prudent measures to address a public health crisis. In their view, data from the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being manipulated to exercise control over a population of “sheeple.”
On a Facebook page popular with the “re-open Georgia without restrictions — now” crowd, there was this: “This is bigger than Georgia. It is even bigger than the USA. Before long masks will be a requirement worldwide. This is also bigger than anything we the people can stop.” And there was this: “I don’t believe the statistics they put out! To me it’s all propaganda set up to destroy and bankrupt our country and have us dependent on the United Nations to come in and take over! Then a one world government!”
The more of this stuff I read, the more time I need tending to the crops.