Working from home. A cozy, comforting idea as winter sets in with its chill winds and low-hanging, grey dome of a sky. But Gerty is not ‘working from home.’ She has been at home since leaving her job more than a decade ago to write, draw, read, and travel. Nevertheless, two years ago, she shelved a lot of plans, meetings, trips, and encounters–a whole thesaurus of personal gathering situations–to protect herself and others as a brutal pandemic swept the globe. She did not cancel her daily exercise, however, especially walks in the parks and along the lakeshore, through new neighborhoods or, rarely, a car ride away. She had more time to read and draw, but not to travel. Her walks through the great Urban Outdoors helped preserve her sanity. Not to say she loved the bitter cold of winter, but she embraced layering.
Usually, she walked early in the morning. At the pandemic’s onset, hardly anyone was out. She felt a strange satisfaction in having the sidewalks to herself. As masking and vaccinations began to affect the pandemic’s course, more people and more cars appeared. The moment of solitary ownership had passed. Now, joggers and strollers, dog-walkers, and other passersby claimed the same sidewalks. Although not evident in the illustration, she wore a facemask out of kindness, compassion, and for self-protection. In winter, condensation made the mask soggy, but it worked.
In the afternoon, Gerty liked to listen to music–sometimes classical, occasionally a long stream of jazz on her laptop, once in a great while pop music on an oldies station.
Not all the songs were sweet. Some reminded her of separation, missed opportunities, or people she disliked; but the association did not stick. The Beatles’ “She Loves You (yeah, yeah, yeah)” played, and she just had to smile. Music warmed her winter days.
And Gerty still stays in touch with friends and family. Just, well, not too often in person. And when the day weighs heavy, a nap with Mr. Cat lightens it up.
Gerty is still out there: walking, writing, drawing, reading, imagining, dreaming, and sharing with friends and family. A good way to embrace the season and life with all its challenges.