Seeking Comfort and Solace Outdoors in the Midst of a Pandemic

Annapolis, Maryland USA Week # 17

The July air is heavy and I’m stuck in the same routine. I try to balance writing, housekeeping, work, and exercise.  The pandemic continues, and as people get sloppy about taking precautions, the number of infections have been rising.

We walked our dog Chloe downtown Friday morning, after avoiding the City Dock area of Annapolis for over a month. Light rain was falling and we wore masks.  In just a few weeks, the landscape had changed with the addition of bright orange and white  barricades to establish outdoor eating areas. Along Main Street, the wood board extension of temporary bicycle lanes has been reinstalled.  Signs are posted throughout the area that say, “Welcome to the Recovery Zone.”

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The idea is a positive one. But not everyone is happy with the changes. The retail merchants decry the loss of any parking spaces. They emphasize the importance of customers being able to stop, park and pick up merchandise. As someone who does a lot of walking, I like to see public spaces that are receptive to pedestrians and bicyclists. The invisible virus is less resilient in the open air.  Satellite parking and bus service is not a practical solution for those who need door-to-door transportation, because during a pandemic the buses require frequent cleanings and properly spaced seats.  Somewhere in the middle there is a compromise, as the City keeps working to find a balance.

The town looks festive. Umbrellas and canvas roofs have been set up to provide shade. And even at 7:45  in the morning, customers were lining up to grab a seat for breakfast at the Iron Rooster located across the street from The Market House which opens at 8:00.  Down at Susan Campbell Park , near the area where sometimes live musicians perform, a wall structure built by Douglas Day provides the location for a striking mural in memory of George Floyd, painted by Jeff Huntington, Deonte Ward, and Comacall Brown.

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Unfortunately too many people continue to walk about in crowded areas without bothering to cover their faces with a mask. It can get tedious jumping the sidewalk to walk in the street, in order to maintain an appropriate distance. Drivers on their way to work are not on the lookout for stray pedestrians.  Is it more dangerous to risk getting hit by a passing car or becoming infected with the novel coronavirus? Many of the people we try to avoid show no recognition that they are doing anything wrong.  Back in the residential neighborhood, away from the visitors and tourists, strolling is much easier. On these walks we look at all the home improvements being done: new decks, new patios, expanded gardens, rebuilt houses.  The attitude seems to be, since we’re stuck at home, might as well improve the homestead.

Back sitting on our own back stoop, we can safely wave to passersby. I guess it’s the battle fatigue, but the vibe of “we’re all in this together” is starting to fade. True, behind a mask, you can’t see a smile, but I’m not seeing  as many messages of encouragement scrawled across hearts or written in sidewalk chalk. A little voice in my head says, “We can’t give up now.” If anything, it’s time to be more vigilant with maintaining our distance and respecting other’s safety by wearing a mask in congested areas and enclosed spaces.

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Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Lunch Ticket, Change Seven, Scarlet Leaf Review and Storynews. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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