View from a Blue Rurality

Nancy Folbre
2 April 2020

We are the lucky ones, distancing in an already pretty distanced place. On country roads, plenty of space for walking, biking, breathing easy.

One neighbor says not to worry because another neighbor has forty rolls of toilet paper, which her boyfriend nabbed before the shit hit the fan. If need be, we can beg for some.

Rio the border collie greets all brown vans with great enthusiasm because the UPS driver always gives him a biscuit. Bob thanks the driver for a delivery today, then, as he drives off, reminds him “Wash your hands!” Driver yells out the window, “I have 150 more deliveries to make. I don’t have time to wash my hands.”

We would like to wash our hands of this horrible new world. At this, soap and water not effective. Still, we are the lucky ones.

The Leverett Village Co-Op was about to go under in February, but some dedicated board members stuck it out, mobilizing volunteers to keep it going. Now it is the best place around to shop, reliably offering staples, safe protocols, and good cheer. Call them to check on how their supplies are holding out, and a real person answers the phone.

Faced with a shortage of hand sanitizer, they found a recipe online involving aloe vera and isopropyl alcohol and filled a huge pump bottle at the entrance. They are now the remote pickup location for fresh produce that can be ordered online from a consortium of local farms.

There is also take-out food, like broccoli soup and reuben sandwiches, pumpernickel with tempeh bacon and sauerkraut, slathered with home-made Russian dressing. Greeting cards by local artists. Wine and beer. And in a pinch, we could walk there, taking a short cut over the power line and picking our way around the beaver pond.

Farm stands and local stores are seeing big surge of demand. Not that supermarket shelves are bare, mostly because few people are driving to work for a paycheck, making it less convenient to shop at stores more than ten miles away. And there’s something soothing about sidestepping global supply chains and seeing your neighbors, if only at a distance of six feet. Nowadays, six feet feels close.

Not that we are self-sufficient. Late Sunday night a deafening lightening strike blew out the water pump and the modem, two absolute necessities. Yet by Monday afternoon, both a plumber and a tech guy had rallied to our rescue.

A friend’s elderly mother who lives in Virginia shared the following joke: Cleaning lady to client: “Don’t worry, I’m working from home. If you have Zoom I can walk you through it.”

We can still laugh. We are the lucky ones.

3 comments on "View from a Blue Rurality"

  1. Bootstrap Media Preview

    You paint a warm and vivid picture Nancy. We are the lucky ones but we grateful too.

  2. Bootstrap Media Preview
    Paula England

    I just loved reading this because I’ve been to your home and can visualize it. So happy the coop survived. So happy you are safe. I may be at ground 0 but I too am a lucky one–still healthy, a paycheck, can work from home, can take a daily walk. And our heroic door men and women wear masks (not given to them by their employer) and gloves and sanitize door knobs and elevator buttons several times a day. At 7pm people open their windows and clap and whoop for the health care workers. Stay strong. Paula

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    Ann Ferguson

    Thanks for your comments on the Co-op resurgence! It is ironic that just when we were really in debt as a member-owned business from a rocky previous year, a new Board volunteering time at the cash register and in the kitchen in the time of the virus got us started on a turnaround, and people’s desire to support a small local grocery store with take out food as a way to avoid the crowds in Big Box stores have allowed us to stage a comeback! We are planning a Phoenix rising summer fling celebration if we can ever get to be together in crowds again!

    Also, Nancy, you are not on Leverett Connects list serve since you live in Montague, but there is an incredible band of women making masks to donate to people to pick up at the Leverett post office. They have shared patterns and stories, and are being called the Angels of the Mask on the list serve. It all started with one woman who started making masks to give to local hospital careworkers lacking PPE, and then when that need was met she starting offering them to people in town and others joined in, sharing elastic, material and know-how. Quite a wonderful example of local mutual aid, stemming from women’s care work. I even dusted off my sewing machine and re-purposed some elastic from old underwear and have tried making masks myself, showing that knowledge workers can sometimes do some basic practical things as well. . The ones Carol and I have made however are pretty inferior to the master Angel of the Mask’s wonderful domed design.

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