“What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end.” Warren Buffett
Guessing by the news last week, Whatcom County will be asked to shelter in place another month. I didn’t think we had it that bad. Of the 1055 deaths in our state, Whatcom has experienced only 36. Today the total death count for the US is 99,624 according to google search COVID-19 alert page. In March, I heard the scientist estimating the deaths nationwide could reach 250,000. That’s not too many, right? Please let me out! …I must be in the negotiating stages of grief now.
It’s 8:10 in the morning here. A neighbor is having problems with their smoke alarm. Each of our apartments has two. I believe both were going off at one point. I’ve had a morning like that. Poor neighbor. These alarms are set off by smoke not heat, typically triggered by cooking. What I learned is to quickly grab a bathroom towel and rotate it like a helicopter blade under the smoke detector, turn on ALL the fans, open ALL the windows, even the door if you have to. It’s the quickest way. Whoever they are, they’ve been at it for 20 minutes now. Sounds like they don’t know the towel trick.
In the back of my mind, I realize it could really be a fire. Oil in the pan, a candle on a blanket, electrical… how fast would this building burn? Let’s see 23 units, built in 1976, so its 44 years old. Does that mean it will burn faster or slower? What would I grab?
Last winter I thought about grabbing everything I own and leaving America. I was (and still am) so discouraged by our country’s leaders I wanted to become an expat and relocate to Mexico, Spain, Cuba, even South Korea, anywhere but the United States. Alarms in the distance warning us of trouble. Complacency argues the trouble is “over there”, it hasn’t reached my door stoop yet, I’m fine, I’m safe. Apathy says what are the chances it’s a real fire? Who cares? Everythings fine. Laziness tells me pour yourself another cup of coffee, get back into bed and turn on Netflix.
Logic (not to be confused with Loki) tells me, it is not a fire. Not anymore. Listen. The beeping is reduced to one alarm, and it corresponds with the low rumble of a large diesel truck, possibly 2 blocks over working on the road. A new breezeway trail is being constructed through a field of blackberries. The fire alarms I heard over a half-hour ago have morphed into a backhoe going forward and backward clearing the sticky stubbornness. A symphony of sound composed by the neighborhood this morning! A lesson embedded of course, as all lessons are if we listen close enough. The lesson I hear is to be ready for an emergency, be thankful, for what you have could be gone in less than 30 minutes, but primarily–when the tone changes the source has too.
I want to share this poem from my book “Fallen” 2017.
by Shannon Laws
I cannot sleep
next to you
The porch light
on the other side
of the curtains
tricks me awake
You look frozen on a canvas,
painted in oils by a master,
shadows lightly brush your shape
I study the back of your head
your ear lobe
a quiet beating vein
the hairline along the neck
There’s a frame of freckles
below the shoulder blade
They look like Orion poised
with bow, arrow aimed upward
I am not your Merope taken by blind force
I am Andromeda, wrists wrapped in iron
ready for monsters to decide loves fate
Gods visit the sheets of women
a vacation from eternity
Taste the finite in the kiss,
wipe their mouths with times mist
I will lose you as I lost others
Tonight your constellation glows in porch light,
while I dream of everything I cannot have
Here is my mood expressed by meme.