I turned up the steep curving driveway to the old farmhouse with the weathered siding and teal trim. By the time I got out of my car Carol was already in the driveway. Her horse, Star, and Llama, Vanilla watched as I walked past the towering lilac bush and stopped six feet away from Carol.
She held up her arms as if holding the whole world in them and said, “This is my Coronavirus hug.” I held up my arms and hugged her back.
Carol and I had plans to take a walk through the woods behind her farm in March. But everything seemed to change so quickly back then and before we had the chance to get together the lockdown was in place.
Last Thursday, instead of talking to my friend Mandy on the phone, as we have every week since the lockdown began, we took a walk then sat on her deck for a while afterward. We were both thrilled just to see each other in person again.
I emailed Carol shortly after that and we made plans to get together.
Last year I had given Carol a few lenses for her iPhone camera. I couldn’t use them anymore because they didn’t fit my new iPhone. Carol is a wonderful photographer and I had a feeling she’d get as much out of them as I had. (If you like nature, animals, and art it’s worth looking at Carol’s Instagram) In exchange, today I picked out four of Carol’s batiks printed on fabric.
When Carol’s friend and neighbor, Monica, showed up the three of us headed into the woods.
Monica, who knows all the many trails that extend for miles, reaching into the town north of us, led the way. Some of them are snowmobile trails, some ATV trails, and some old roads. It’s easy to see which is which by the surface we were walking on. The ATV trails are worn down to dirt, the snowmobile trails clear of fallen trees and branches, the old roads are wide but unkept.
We walked for two hours, spotting wildflowers, frogs, snakes, newts, chipmunks, and Star’s hoof prints from when Carol walked with her a few days before. At one point we stopped to listen to the conversation between two Barred Owls. “They’ll have their chicks by now” Monica told us.
I had never met Monica before yet the three of us walked and talked with the ease of old friends.
When we emerged from the woods into one of the fenced-off horse pastures, Carol handed me a piece of carrot from her pocket so I could feed it to Star who seemed to expect it.
We had drank all of our water and were sweaty, the temperature was already in the mid-eighties. But our walk had given me a renewed sense of calm. My mind was quiet and content.
Soon we stood in a wide circle in the driveway where our morning together began. The three of us saying goodbye, held up our arms in a Coronavirus hug.
Then we turned away from each other, Carol walked back to her house, Monica to her bicycle at the bottom of the driveway and me to my car.
I waved out my open window as I drove past Monica pedaling uphill on Route 40. I haven’t felt that free in months.