Gimme shelter (not)

I have been going through photos. I have been struck with the sheer level of activity and variety in my prepandemic life. Was 2016-17 typical? Perhaps not. But in the space of six months I made two trips to Africa and we sold and bought a house, moved, helped care for a new grandchild, and went to the Kentucky Derby for the first time ever. Oh, and Trump was elected right then and turned the political scene upside down.

After a year of confinement I don’t think I’d be up for that much … life any more. But a little more personal excitement would be nice, besides watching riots and a would-be coup from a safe distance; something to look forward to. In this passive life I have spent a lot of nervous energy looking forward to things. The election. The certification. The inauguration. And now, in two days, our vaccinations. But just as I start dreaming about planning a family trip to South Africa next winter, that country produces a virulent new variant of the virus and travel therefrom is banned. The wait-and-see stance must be adopted once again.

“Sheltering in place.” Remember that term? It was what we did in the first weeks of the pandemic when we didn’t know much at all about the virus except that it was pretty scary. In Indiana we kept our numbers low at first by sheltering in place and then a lot of people got tired of that and we started going out more and then the whole mask thing and the virus itself was politicized. And sheltering in place became the more political “lockdown.” We ventured out to visit our family in early July when the lockdown was lifted, and then the numbers went haywire and we went back to mostly staying home, that is, voluntarily sheltering in place. I did give up grocery delivery and started grocery shopping on my own because I needed some excuse to get out of the house, especially after gardening season ended, so I can’t say I’ve been religious about sheltering in place all this time, just about masking up.

Perhaps the smartest thing we did during the past six months was to open our shelter to two more asylum seekers, joining the one who was released to us from detention in early March, just in time for the lockdown. This move resulted in the establishment of a bicultural community in our large house, which adds life and liveliness and also a sense of purpose. Life for those three people could be extremely difficult without us. I don’t have to go out of the house to be useful—except for occasional gigantic shopping trips to Costco. Our service projects live upstairs.

Still, I keep feeling like I have regressed to laziness. Is an absence of striving the same as laziness? I have no particular focus for energy, therefore, whatever energy I have dissipates. Sometimes this feels comfortable, sometimes it feels like a great loss.

My daughter-in-law, who has also been to South Africa, and I dream of proteus and elephants and getting the whole family there. Together. Someday.

How are you all holding up?

Safari to South Africa

I am just back from a two-week safari (Swahili for “trip”) to South Africa. What can I say? It was impressive and I learned a lot.

Yesterday I pulled aside the curtain of jetlag and looked at my pictures. Animals in Kruger National Park, flora and scenery in Cape Town, and the craggy southern tip of Africa that forms a dramatic end to the continent. Here are a few. Continue reading