COLUMN: Riding out a pandemic in NE Iowa in March
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COLUMN: Riding out a pandemic in NE Iowa in March

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I am required to shelter in place. The primary reason being that I am older and male.

The male part is something I noticed when I was a child, but the older part came as somewhat of a surprise. I don’t think of myself in those terms. Like many others, I don’t notice my age unless I look in a mirror or make the mistake of trying to run. My mother once said the same thing. She began to realize there was some strange person looking back at her in the mirror.

But the truth is the truth.

I remembered almost everything when I was younger. Now, I walk into a room and can’t remember why I’m there, or have to go back into another room because I left something I wanted to bring with me. And then ... where in the world is that insurance document? I made the mistake of putting it someplace where I could always find it, which means I can’t find it.

The government is not a big help. A friend of mine reached retirement age. She was a bright business woman who could do magical things.

She took a look at Social Security and Medicare documents and didn’t have a clue what they were saying. She had to hire someone to get her through the bureaucratic mess.

A suggestion to the bureaucrats — if you can’t tell people what they are supposed to do on a post card, get a grip and simplify it. The feds like to ask elders for decisions that a 35-year-old lawyer couldn’t make.

Other than complaining about the government, what else is there to do when sheltering?

One gardening expert said it was an excellent time to get rid of the weeds in your yard. When you finished that, you could go out again and make sure the weeds were really gone. You could also plant early spring veggies like peas, carrots, and lettuce. Unfortunately, the writer had never attempted that in northern Iowa in March. But what else is there to do? Brush away the snow, break up the frozen soil and plant peas, and then pray for more than two days of warm weather.

In between weeding and dodging tornadoes, a person could read. We older folk still do that. I just finished a book on geology. Iowa during the Devonian period was very warm and covered by a shallow sea, much like the last two summers.

Some of us are lucky enough to have a home office. In between attempting to keep a job electronically, it is time to write that book. Titles like “What I Did During the Pandemic” will flood the market, along with thousands of attempts to create the Great American Novel.

It is also a good time to reflect. It is good to remember that things happen because people make them happen through their creativity and hard work. And with many, such as the health-care providers, sometimes with great sacrifice.

Dennis Clayson is a marketing professor at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.

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