Writing in the Time of COVID-19: Day Five

It’s a gray morning but a sound pulls my head up and away from my phone, and I step onto the lanai. It’s a pair of nēnē flying overhead.

Flying nene silver efex yellowed 2 16x9

My mom used to do this, get distracted by nature. Growing up in the Midwest, it might have been the distant cousins of nēnē, Canada geese. Maybe deer emerging from the woods at dusk. Maybe a lineup of hummingbirds at the feeder outside her window. “Look,” she’d say, drawing my two brothers and me close. Her mother did it, too. The Northern cardinal, especially, got Grandma Buck’s attention.

Both sets of my grandparents were a huge part of my childhood. It sounds like Grandma Steutermann’s coffee cake lives on. I was excited to read in one of the comments from yesterday’s blog post that a friend is going to make Grandma’s coffee cake.

I’m out of my usual morning tea, so I’ve switched to another tea this morning. A week ago today, I was supposed to fly to Honolulu to see the poet Jane Hirshfield. She was scheduled to give a reading with several other big name poets. Alas, the event was postponed. I tried calling Hawaiian Airlines to cancel my flight, starting 72 hours in advance as they requested. But I never got beyond an immediate busy signal, never even got through to be put on hold. I emailed. I initiated a live-chat with them on my phone. I even tweeted. I tried for three days solid but got no replies. In the end, I gave up, figuring the bargain fare of $73 round-trip was no longer worth my time to try to recoup. A friend said he resorted to going to the airport early one morning and dealing with a gate agent to cancel a flight. Again, I figured my $73 round-trip fare wasn’t worth my time—or the risk.

The thick membrane between earth and sky is thinning. My world is becoming brighter. Lulu is in and out of the house with the passing clouds.

My brother calls from St. Louis. I help him with with an online grocery order for my Dad and him. Both are both immuno-compromised, so I’m glad they can rely on delivery services.

The podcasts I usually listen to while driving 30 minutes to and from work are piling up, unread. Luckily, I just discovered Kauai Food Hub North Shore, an online fresh produce co-op. I placed my custom order that I can swing by on Saturday and pick up. It’s like a drive-through farmers market. Hooray for fresh carrots, salad mix, scallions, arugula, cabbage, and radishes. But it’s only a 10-minute drive each way, not a lot of time for much listening.

I watched this great video by a family physician on how to decontaminate groceries and food as you bring them into the house. It’s got solid, practical advice. I recommend everybody watch it.

Another friend, Louise, posted a video of her six weeks at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. If you’re interested in albatross and/or the annual albatross count that happens at Midway, you’ll enjoy all 30 minutes. If you’re not that interested, watch for a few minutes anyway, and you’ll get an idea of how important this tiny coral atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is to Laysan and Black-footed albatross populations. Plus, Louise has a great accent.

It’s sunny now. There’s a light breeze, and I can hear birds chirping outside.

In the evening, after a day of working from home, Lulu takes Eric and me for a walk through the neighborhood. Our neighbor Marcia slows to say hello as she drives by. We’re all careful to maintain good social distancing.

We pass a flock of ruddy turnstones and a kolea mingling among them. That’s two bird species. We also spot a red-crested cardinal, a few mynah birds, some Japanese white-eyes, a white-rumped shama, chickens, totaling seven bird species for the walk, nothing rare.

I received an email earlier for a rare bird alert. Usually there are numerous birds across Hawaii listed on this report. Today, a lone sighting of an elepaio, a forest bird. So, it seems that birders are birding in their backyards these days, not the far reaches of Koke’e, a state park that is currently closed.

We’re up to 95 cases in Hawaii. Five on Kauai. And this is the headline I just read moments ago: “Hawaii health officials warn coronavirus threat will continue for ‘at least four or five months’.”

Now, as the sun sets and I pre-heat the oven to bake a frittata for dinner, I hear our resident white-rumped shama, as he sings his evening lullaby. There’s no better call to dinner as another day closes.

Be well.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael says:

    I enjoyed the whole informative Midway video, Mahalo


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      That doesn’t surprise me one iota! Good to hear from you, Michael.


  2. lkshore says:

    Thank you for your daily email. I am often up during the night as you can see and I find your posts soothing. I seem to be addicted to checking the Johns Hopkins map several times a day (and night). Not sure why when I already know it’s spreading.

    I have never tolerated deliberate stupidity well, but the willful ignorance of some of our governors is astounding. Being defiant in the face of a virus is futility defined. I’m so thankful that medical and biotech companies are working so hard at treatments and vaccines to help people. It certainly is a stark contrast to the malaise of the federal government.

    And then there is my heart which is firmly planted in the soil of Hawaii. I worry about friends and people who are out of work and how they will survive when so many live on the edge of poverty. It’s going to be a hard, slow rebuild.

    I was talking to Gregg and he said there would be pent up demand for Hawaii vacations when this is over. I am doubtful because everyone’s 401K investments have taken a hit. No matter what jobs and the economy will be very different going forward. More remote work places, more contract work, and a long economic recovery.

    Anyway, nice to talk to you even if it is one sided.


    Sent from my iPad



    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      Hi Lois, I hope we’re changed and our world is different going forward, and I hope it’s for the better, of course. Like a reset or reboot. Today, I heard the police are stopping cars at checkpoints–in the middle of the afternoon. Whoa!


  3. Tommye says:

    Yesterday we drove through Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. It is pretty empty now but I did get to see my first Avocet. A woman from Alaska was photographing them and told me what they were. The wildlife refuge is on the migration pathway for all sorts of water fowl and shorebirds. It was a great way to spend time while social distancing.


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      We have cousins to avocets here, with long legs and long bills; however, our stilts have straight bills not the crazy curved bills that avocets have.


  4. diane tilley says:

    Hi Kim back in Ontario can. now happily watching the canada geese returning sometimes they slde across the remaining ice on the lake. the robins are starting to nest. so relieved to be in Canada self isolating in my lovely condo on the water in Bobcaygeon keep writing.


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      Don’t Canada geese look giant after getting used to seeing nēnē? I love the image of them sliding across ice! Be well.


      1. diane tilley says:

        yes, especially when they are up on the grass grazing. lots of mallards and ducks and ravens and baffleheads and of course black, grey and red squirrels. I have not been here for early spring for many years. loving it.


      2. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

        It sounds lovely. I’m happy for you.


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