Who would have thought winter camping would turn out to be the perfect activity? Most of the time, when I tell people that, yes, we do take our small motorhome out during the cold months, even if there’s a foot of snow on the ground, they silently look askance or, more often, flatly question our sanity. How do we stay warm? Well, the vehicle is sturdily built and actually does have a very efficient furnace. There is a heater in the water tank, and there are always warm shower houses in the state park we call our home base. We tend to cook inside or reheat, rather than stand outside over the grill in a frigid wind, but we still eat well. A friend asked us why in the world we would bother to pack up and drive out into nowhere when we could stay home and be cozy and comfortable with no effort. The answer is, in our neighborhood, there isn’t a lake fifty steps from the door, and there are no groves of huge pines, nor are there herds of trees between us and the neighbors. Except in the winter in the park, there usually are no neighbors. There is, however, a severe, stark beauty of water, bare trees, and open sky that can’t be found in the ’hood. Catty-corner to us this weekend is the huge travel trailer belonging to the couple who lives in the park all winter, and just down the road is a family-sized tent, with people who really believe in roughing it. Other than that, no human company to be found.
So here I sit, with the motorhome plugged into an adjacent power mast—we make some concessions to the soft life—pondering the brand-new concept of social distancing. I read an article wherein were recapped the opinions of several public health experts as to avoiding contact with others during the new COVID19 reality. Well-meaning advice prevailed, but the opinions were sometimes a bit short on practicality. Stand as far as possible away from others on buses and trains? Apparently, these experts don’t have much experience with public transportation, when city life by definition includes crowded buses and trains; the bigger the city, the more packed-in passengers are for most of every day. The suggestions about things like weddings varied from cancelling them if possible to disinviting grandmas because of health vulnerability. Of course, it’s always possible to cancel a wedding, if one is willing to write off thousands of dollars invested in a venue and catering, and tell out-of-town guests to cancel their flights and hotels. Telling Grandma she can’t attend…..well, that might be more difficult. In general, though, the instructions were to have as little contact with fellow human beings as possible, especially those outside the immediate family. Don’t go get that haircut if you can avoid it. Sit at least six feet away from others in restaurants and movie theaters. Call a halt to board-game parties, or at least don’t get close to anybody else. Too bad we haven’t yet invented those personal bubbles the sci-fi novels predicted.
Meanwhile, my husband and I have traveled from home, and yet we’re isolated. We can go out and walk around without fear of contracting an illness. There are a few hardships involved: the tripping hazard of Cindy the shih tzu running in circles around my feet in a narrow space; the acoustic assault of Annie the foxhound’s “Timmy’s in the well!” bark because she’s on a lead outside; and the intrusion of Diana the tortie’s food bowl balanced on the edge of the bathroom vanity, but we make the best of it. We’ve perfected our own version of social distancing.