Backroads: Pandemic Self-Entertainment

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Kris and Lynn armed with masks & flashlights.

Before I moved to the community of Love, I remember asking my future neighbor Bunny Stein what they did up here for entertainment. Without missing a beat, Bunny said on Saturday nights they rode down the gravel Coal Road and listened to rocks “ping” off the hubcaps! I thought that was pretty funny until I moved here and found that that activity could be quite exciting. Besides the “pinging” rocks, there were all kinds of nocturnal animals to be seen along with a few suspicious two-legged animals that we didn’t hang around long enough to see what they were up to.

Fast forward to today, when people are staying home during the threat of the COVID-19 virus and have to find creative ways to entertain themselves. I asked several folks what they did to keep themselves occupied in their solitude and found there was no end to inventive ideas.

Barbara Marshall of Waynesboro took it upon herself to design and sew hundreds of colorful masks, which she gave out to anyone needing one. She said she and two of her closest friends also made time to have lunch together each week, rotating at each other’s houses to get out a little bit.

Beth Spitler of Afton said that with some of her extra time she took on the job of cleaning out the family’s large freezer. Bless you, Beth. Even with extra time, I procrastinated and didn’t put that disgusting task on my priority list!

Patty Hendrix of Montebello undertook the arduous task of cleaning the attic of her late mother’s home. But instead of making repeated trips up and down the steps to load stuff on her truck, she opened the attic window and threw the unnecessaries onto the roof and watched them slide down into a large pile on the grass below. If anything stuck, she telescoped a large curtain rod and gave it a push over the edge! She warned her brother Charles not to come over and mow the grass until she was done, lest he get hit on the head with flying debris. Pretty good thinking, Patty.  

For my good friend Kris Gembara’s contribution, we came up with a plan that is still making us laugh. Kris said she had just bought a high-powered flashlight with a strobe feature and I told her I had one, too, that I swept across our fields at night to see critter eyes. Kris lives in Wintergreen, several houses up from the Blue Ridge Overlook on Devil’s Knob, which “overlooks” our cabin in Love. We came up with the idea that one night after dark she would walk down to the overlook and I would walk out to the front pasture and we would flash our lights to see if they were visible to each other. Our plan, since we couldn’t see where we were located in the dark, was that she would give me five successive flashes aimed at where she thought I might be standing.  If I saw her flashes, I would flash five times back and if she saw mine, she would acknowledge by turning on her strobe.  Huzzah! On our first try we could see each other’s flashlight beams as plain as day! We played around for five minutes (I’m sure my neighbors were wondering what I was doing out there) before walking back to the house to call each other. We laughed and laughed, and I told Kris, “Do you know how SAD this is?” Kris replied, “You know what’s even SADDER?  I was looking forward to doing this all day!” 

The moral of the story is, even in a pandemic, where activities are limited, there’s no end to what people can come up with to self-entertain. All it takes is a little imagination and a healthy dose of weird humor. 

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