I hope this note finds you well.
Gabriela Garcia Marques, Nobel-prize winning author from Columbia, wrote a novel in 1985 called Love in the Time of Cholera. The novel compares unrequited love with an overwhelming illness like Cholera. Clearly, there are many ways that people can suffer from an illness like Cholera and/or COVID. Loneliness and isolation have had a dramatic impact on many of our family and friends.
Mrs. Annette and I are lucky that we have had each other in this time of crisis. Once a week, we go to the grocery store, the wine store and occasionally the hardware store. One of our favorite haunts during normal times was the local YMCA but for the first part of this time the Y was not open or a reasonable option. We also have a lunch group that has met each weekday for the last 40 years.
During this time, we have cut our lunches down to twice a week where each of us brings food, we social distance at separate tables, and we wear masks. Several of our members are single and this has provided them with an outlet.
During this time of COVID, Annette and I have established a routine. Each morning, we get up early, feed the cats and push them out the door to prowl and hunt. Almost every day we exercise for 90 minutes. We alternate daily between walking/running and riding our bicycles. We live in a beautiful rural area and because of this we have an eighteen-mile bike course that is modestly hilly with good road surfaces and minimal traffic.
In the afternoon, she works in her garden and flowerbeds. The cats follow her every step and protect her from enemies, foreign and domestic. I have spent this time putting the finishing touches on a book I have been working on for the last couple of years called Country Doctors of Arkansas.
With some fear and trepidation, two weeks ago we stepped out of our safety zone and took a road trip. One of our dear friends is working on riding his bicycle across all fifty states; Michigan is one of his last four states. We decided to join him. Our biking journey took us from New Buffalo, Michigan in the Southwest Corner of the state to Mackinac Island in the Northwest Corner of the state.
For eleven days, we rode 40+ miles a day along the shore of Lake Michigan. Ninety percent of our waking time was spent outdoors in rural areas. We stayed in very clean motels and ate most of our meals in outdoor settings. We were pleasantly surprised at the seriousness with which the people and businesses along the way took COVID, especially the people of Michigan.
If our experience is any reflection, it seems that we are beginning to develop a new normal that will allow us to go about our lives in a reasonable but cautious manner.
Stay well and be safe,
Have a good journey.
Dr. Sam Taggart is a retired doctor/ writer/ marathon runner in practice in Benton for the last 35 years. He recently published The Public’s Health: A narrative history of health and disease in Arkansas, published by the Arkansas Times. His two other books, With a Heavy Heart and We All Hear Voices are available at your local booksellers or online at Amazon.com.