Sheltering-in-Place Part 12: Quarantining in New York

Week 19

I have arrived in New York, Rockland County, some 20 miles north of Manhattan. Here, I am helping my friend, B, pack away the effects of her deceased parents.

It is shocking how much we accumulate in a lifetime: papers; books; linens, furniture; kitchen and cookware; Granny’s dishes; Mom’s silverware; cleaning supplies and equipment; amusements: games, toys, exercise and sports equipment; clothing and shoes; umbrellas; artwork and jewelry; knickknacks; memorabilia; and the “fishy bits” not otherwise categorized.

Mostly today, I am impressed by the ingenuity of U-Haul packing materials: boxes that unfold just so, dividers that fit into them and provide strengthening, padded sleeves variously sized to fit dinner and salad plates and saucers, foam padding scored to tear off like paper towels. I’m amazed to discover a whole industry I knew nothing about filling the needs of people schlepping stuff. And I’m appalled to consider how much of our lives we will spend being ruled by stuff, acquiring it and moving it around, our own stuff as well as that of our parents, relatives, and friends for whom we will inherit cleaning crew duty.

My advice on deep cleaning during COVID Time: if you haven’t done it yet, don’t start now. Goodwill and homeless shelters are inundated. Nonprofits are closed or understaffed as are the schools and children’s activity camps which might otherwise want craft supplies. Freecycle, NextDoor, and Craigslist, however, are useful for advertising piles of free stuff set out on the front lawn.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying northeastern weather when I can tolerate the heat and humidity. Evenings are replete with crickets and fireflies (and the so-far-occasional downpour). I’ve been observing eastern wildlife: bluejays, sparrows, grackles, a juvenile Northern Cardinal, a moulting robin, starlings, several unidentified sparrows, and maybe a cowbird. The squirrels here are grey. The rabbit is brown. Two groundhogs, possibly mother and near-adult child, have been grazing clover in the backyard.

That’s the news from here.

Stay well,


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