Cooped up on Cayuga Street



Mary and I have lived in virtual isolation in our house for coming up on two months, and I have to admit I’m getting a little restless. So is Mary, especially when her Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups run out before she can replenish them with her once-weekly grocery run.

We had big plans for this summer, enjoying our retirement and visiting our kids in Chicago and DC. But for now we’re stuck on Cayuga Street. Which is a good place to be if you have to stay home.

We can’t visit friends either. Television is our only companion, and that’s a one-way conversation.

As if that wasn’t enough, this whole pandemic delivered a gut punch to our small family-owned business, a situation we share with so many of our readers.

At first I thought that maybe Gov. Reynolds is right, that it’s time to reopen the state. We in sparsely populated Northwest Iowa mostly avoided the plague until Sioux City became COVID capital of the U.S. last week.

Meanwhile, the medical experts tell us to hold on for just a little longer, to keep COVID-19 from regaining its grip on America. I am sure Gov. Reynolds means well, and I appreciate the fact that she has a degree in liberal studies, but I prefer to take medical advice from medical school graduates.

But I shouldn’t whine. While Storm Lake may be unexciting in normal times, life here is paradise compared to what folks in cities across America are enduring now. While fatalities are finally decreasing in New York and New Jersey, they’re still not out of the woods. Epidemiologists are concerned that relaxing health practices now will just give the virus a second wind, perhaps even more deadly than the first round of infections.

The good news is that researchers in England are testing a vaccine that may be available in just a few months that will deliver a knockout blow to COVID-19.


I’M LOOKING OUT our front window as Storm Lake shimmers in the sun a half block away while the trees start to bud and the grass greens and grows in the warming days of spring.

Ahh, the grass is growing! And I get to mow it, one of my favorite things. I don’t have to worry about violating social distance norms when I’m guiding my trusty Toro across our lawn, which is actually the size of one and a half lots. No one comes near me.

It used to take me about an hour and a half to mow this oversized lot. But now that I’m pushing 70, it takes me twice as long since I need a break about every 20 minutes, longer when the weather gets warmer.

I was amazed to learn that I walk more than two and a half miles while mowing. It’s good exercise and makes my doctor happy.

Normally I walk just under two miles a day on my strolls to and from work. I still report to the office for an hour or two each day to take care of any business that needs my attention in person. The rest of the day I work(?) from home, as do any of the staff that can. The rest of the gang still works out of our Times Square office, which is closed to walk-in traffic. Our staff is spread out to be safely socially distant. At least I think they’re still working.

My iPhone measures the distance I walk, very accurately, it turns out. It tells me the office is .8 miles from home and will take 13 minutes to walk — which is right on the nose! Others use FitBit watches and similar devices to gauge their physical activity. I don’t know how these little gadgets do it, but they’re spot on.

The goal for many people seems to be 7,000 steps per day, which figures out to about three miles. It’s amazing how many steps we take each day just walking around the house and our jobs.

It would be nice if, while we are taking all these steps, we would give passersby a wide berth as we meet them on the sidewalks. If you’re on a sidewalk in the park and you meet another walker, give each other plenty of room, at least six feet. And if you’re in a place where you may be near people, please wear a mask. It’s the least we can do until our friends in England come up with that vaccine.

Until we find a cure, stay home and read The Times!

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