Strange Times Stretch On

As this year's holz hausen steadily grows, small birds are enjoying insect bounty the stack of split timber provides, and some of the small mammals have already taken up residence in it.

Ground squirrels and chipmunks seem more curious than fearful of its builder. I reassure them it's okay by me if they live in it, but warn them it will slowly disappear after winter begins and progresses. Unfazed, they romp on and watch closely as I continue constructing their high-rise housing complex–a delightful presence.

Downslope the pandemic continues while people foolishly believe politicians' self-serving claims it's now safe enough to go out again. Even as hospitals are running out of beds for COVID-19 victims they seem determined to mingle with others in large numbers, regardless of high risk. Warnings to family members doing so are circumspect, tempered by reluctance to tell anyone how to conduct their own lives. Still, fear for them and dread of phone calls reporting someone is ill mount daily.

Maintaining life in isolation here is easy and comes naturally. No burning desire to mingle with others as threat of infection and illness mounts almost everywhere else in the world is driving any of my actions.

On the contrary, there are plenty of safe, unassuming relationships with nonhuman company to enjoy here close to the house and deeper into surrounding wilderness. Mule deer does are thoroughly accustomed to my presence and calmly walk away without breaking their grazing rhythm to maintain safe distance rather than bounding away in fright. Even though I don't provide any seed or suet for them, seasonal avian residents go about their business without concern over my presence. A crow stops by each evening to see if I've discarded another trapped deer mouse and usually leaves with one in its beak. Elk, bobcat, bear and cougar are keeping their distance which is just fine, allowing us all to coexist here stress free.

I doubt I could handle distancing with people downslope so easily, though. Recurring nightmares of life in crowded places tell me I will panic in most situations, especially where safety guidances are arrogantly being ignored. So I don't even plan to make any attempts until I'm able to be vaccinated against the virulent contagion. Even then, a vaccination may not be enough to make going outside the bounds of this safe haven desirable. I'll just wait, for the sake of everyone's safety.