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Another Day in the Country

Getting back to normal

© Another Day in the Country

As happens to all of us, I get used to my world looking a certain way in Ramona, and then I hit the wider world and receive a quick course correction.

What I’ve been considering normal isn’t. So how does one get “back to normal” when “normal?” is always changing?

Take “quiet” for instance.

In a very small puddle, like Ramona, population 100, it’s usually fairly still, as in absence of loud noise.

It is so quiet, that I can hear the sound of my sister’s car motor in late afternoon when she’s coming home from work.

Her cat and I prick up our ears and prepare for things to be not so quiet.

I also know the particular sound of an old diesel pickup as it labors past my doorstep and I know who is driving.

There’s the sound of my chickens behind the house, calling out congratulations to one another when an egg is laid, or the contented sound of them just trading very local gossip about who ate more than her share of scraps or why Pat prizes blue eggs more than white ones.

There used to be a mockingbird in the neighborhood, and that would be the predominant bird sound.

For two years now there has been no resident mockingbird.

Mockingbirds always were my mother’s favorite and for some reason they often were in her vicinity.

She liked the wide variations of their calls and tried to mimic them with her whistle.

I was surprised a few months back with the sound of ice clattering in the freezing compartment of the refrigerator.

The ice maker hadn’t worked for a couple of years, no matter who looked at it or tried to repair it.

“You never know about ice makers,” Art said to me when I called for help, “Sometimes they just start working again.”

Completely resigned to no more automatic ice cubes, I adjusted to buying ice when I needed it.

And then one day, quite unexpectedly, I heard the rattle of ice cubes falling into the ice bucket behind the freezer door.

I couldn’t believe my ears. It was now such an abnormal sound that I told myself (being the only one around — which is fairly normal) that I must have imagined that sound.

Sometime later, I opened the freezer door to retrieve frozen peas and was astounded to find a copious amount of ice cubes threatening to overflow their boundary.

This abnormal turn of events, evidently considered normal by ice maker fixer-uppers, has now become normal. Normally, I have ice — without requesting it or buying it. Amazing!

For more than a year, I didn’t travel anywhere farther than Lawrence.

Staying home, not seeing my daughter or her family, became normal.

Talking or playing games on FaceTime became the norm.

Now that the ravages of a pandemic are mostly behind us, I’ve taken to traveling again.

I was prepared for a long layover at Denver Airport with a book to read, snacks to eat, and a list of activities that would be good to do like “walk” and “drink plenty of water,” and “call cousin Keith.”

I chose to call Keith.

Normally, I don’t see Keith for long periods of time, so when we do connect on the phone, there are lots of stories to tell and items to discuss.

This time, I’d seen him just a few days before when he visited Ramona for Memorial Day weekend.

We’d got together with various family members for different occasions and pretty much heard all the news.

So, Keith and I talked for only 20 minutes or so, and I went back to my list of “what to do during long layovers.”

I walked up and down the concourse. I refilled my water bottle. And then I settled down to do some serious people watching.

This is what I normally do in crowded places where I have to wait.

Normally, folks I see in Ramona (other than the post master) don’t like to wear masks.

I’ve heard it seems to impose on their particular brand of freedom.

However, flying on planes and walking around airports, everyone quite happily seems to be wearing a mask. When I landed in California, mask wearing was the norm.

This “normal/abnormal” thing seems to do a lot of shifting.

In the Denver airport, I’d been careful to recharge my phone at one of those charging stations.

Electronics often confound me since I didn’t grow up in an age when one could go around plugging into things, so I was very proud of my willingness to use the convenience of a place to gain energy for my phone. I wished there were a charging station for humans, but then again, maybe that’s what Starbucks is!

People-watching, which I sometimes do in Ramona from my front porch, was infinitely more varied at the airport.

There was a lanky guy dressed in black from hoodie to tennis shoes with a black mask on his face lying on the floor in front of the charging station.

There was a long black cord leading from him to the outlet. He looked like a robot, as he lay completely still on the floor, rebooting himself, while people walked around him.

Someday, robots probably will be normal.

There were tiny tots barely able to walk pulling miniature carry-ons and oldsters barely able to navigate doing the same. All of it seemed a little foreign to me but completely normal to them -- all of it so completely unlike a normal day in the country.

Last modified June 24, 2021

 

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