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See Off News


Last updated 4/8/2020 at 2:59pm

Spring on See Off Mountain is shaping up a little differently this year. Oh, we started off in the regular, predictable way: daffodils poked their sunny little heads out, birds started performing their morning symphonies, violets carpeted front yards and trees began their budding. But just as things were really getting warmed up (pun fully intended, of course), See Off residents have been asked to stay home alongside the rest of the country to keep each other safe and healthy in the face of a viral pandemic.

No one likes to see their regularly planned life come screeching to a surprise halt but aren’t we fortunate to be “stuck” in such a lovely location? I’ve often felt that same kind of gratitude on snow days here on See Off Mountain, the idea that if we have to be “stuck,” at least it is somewhere with woods to wander in, streams to listen to and hills to sled down.

I am looking for ways to express that same kind of gratitude in quarantine. When I find myself worried about job security for myself and my neighbors, I take time to watch tulips in my yard open in a real time time-lapse-style dance. When I find myself overwhelmed by the numbers and statistics of our county, state, country and world, I take off my shoes and let the creek wash my feet with its icy flow. When I feel uncertain and exhausted from bracing my children (and myself) for disappointment after disappointment, we text a neighbor on the other side of the mountain to ask if we can watch the sunset from their viewpoint tonight. We may feel overwhelmed and unsure, but our mountain is here performing its rhythmic ballet of seasonal delight, one dogwood tree at a time.

Several neighbors here on See Off Mountain are using their shelter-in-place days to make life a bit easier for those around them. Nancy Richards and Cathy Haker have been busily stitching up fabric face masks for front line workers and, as recommendations have shifted to say that we should all be wearing a face covering in public, neighbors and friends. Doug Poad is doing his part to keep us all informed through his upbeat emails, complete with movie recommendations and news from neighbors. Doug has also made it a personal mission to support as many local businesses as possible, especially restaurants. Doug has scheduled several “virtual dinner parties,” where neighbors order by phone from local restaurants.

Doug makes the run into town to pick up everyone’s order and deliver it to the See Off Community Center for distribution and a quick (6 feet away) hello. We are all checking in on each other a little more, shaking our heads in solidarity at the unbelievable changes to our lives. We even saw some sidewalk chalk birthday wishes in front of the Jones house on Becky Mountain Road earlier this week. Happy 11th birthday, Luka!

Since spring is still performing as regularly scheduled, lots of See Off folks are taking full advantage of the warm days and empty calendars and getting outside. Alane Klink reports the berry bushes she put in last fall are looking good, as is her herb garden. She’s planted lettuce and peppers as well. Michael and Nancy Rosenthal are enjoying a daily walk to see how spring is coming along in their yard. They are also looking forward to connecting with family, via Zoom, to celebrate the first night of Passover this week. Don and Suzy Green have both kept plenty busy with projects at home. Don just finished redoing their kitchen ceiling, complete with a fresh paint job. Now he’s moved on to his second project: a 1944 MB Willys Jeep. He has completed the engine, transmission, wheel bearings, tracker disc brakes, painted frame and is now working on painting all body parts “Navy” World War II grey.

Don and his veteran buddies use Jeeps like these in parades and other public events. Suzy has focused more on yard work, pruning and tending to her hydrangeas and azaleas. Watt McCain says he’s doing fine as well, “doing what I’d ordinarily do here: walking in the woods every day, listening to music, reading some, watching TV and marveling at God’s wonderful creation from my deck. The main things I miss are a haircut, going to the grocery store and ‘non-virtual’ church.” Paula Poad said her day-to-day life hasn’t changed too much (still taking her daily “roll” with her dogs, waving to neighbors from a healthy distance), but that she is viewing spring with greater intentionality this year: “I see how spring is happily coming in. Beautiful blossoming bulbs, trees and even weeds that enjoy the joys of life. It reminds me to enjoy the beauty that is happening this day.” Good advice for us all.

Our family is doing just fine as well. Since we have been homeschooling for years, we had less of a transition to “shelter-in-place” schooling, although please know that even seasoned homeschoolers are reeling in these recent changes to schedule and mobility. One big loss we’ve been navigating is the cancellation of the Little League Baseball season. This year was Jamin’s last year of eligibility for this league, and he was so hopeful about the season ahead. He misses his friends, of course, and we keep finding ways to keep him and his buddies connected, but it is hard to replace the feeling of being on the diamond, the crack of the bat, shouts of encouragement from the dugout, the promise of a hot dog from the concession stand after the game. To take a bit of the sting away we are ensuring a healthy balance of lots of time adventuring in the woods and lots of time saving the world in the form of video games. And lots and lots of snacks.

Pucker Up Berry Farm is humming right along this spring. The farmers are preparing for the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture: families buy a share at the beginning of the growing season and then receive a box of produce weekly for 22 weeks) season to start in just a few weeks. There was an episode involving a pesky groundhog and an entire row of freshly planted lettuce, but Farmer Eric had a firm talk with said groundhog and there have been no further incidents.

The shade cover has been added to the greenhouse for the season, which really makes it feel like warm weather is here to stay. We are riding our bikes to make produce and egg deliveries on the mountain these days. We’ve been saving all our white eggs (only five of our 20 layers produce white eggs), so we will be all set for Easter egg dying. This year we are experimenting with honeyberries from our orchard to produce our own natural dyes. We’ll keep you posted on how they turn out.

We are living in a world that is new to us every day, in terms of the ever-changing daily news of disease and loss, but also in the ever-changing march onward that spring brings. There is plenty to worry about, but there is even more to be thankful for. Your neighbors care about you and want to support you however they can and recent weeks have shown that to be even more true. If you need someone to talk to, reach out to [email protected] and we will happily do all we can to help and connect you with the right support for your needs. Please ask for what you need in this time of uncertainty, whether it is conversation to stave off loneliness, help navigating the unemployment paperwork system, guidance on how to provide food and supplies to your family, or just someone to listen in solidarity to all the loss, disappointment and anxiety pandemic has brought to us all. And let us know how you are doing.

This column is a lovely way to keep tabs on each other until we are back to our regular monthly potluck meet up. Tell us all about your shelter-in-place view from spring on See Off Mountain.


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