Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Gracie’s And My Daily (Socially Distant) Walks

Well, thanks to Covid-19, the world has turned upside down and every routine we've ever known has been summarily tossed out the figurative window. 

But until hell officially freezes over, you better believe Gracie and I are still taking our daily walks.

Determined though we are, we're not daredevils or in denial about pandemic protocol. So here is how we are coping with our socially distant walking program. 

Body still, ears up, eyes lasered in on the target. Yep, the signs are unmistakable. 
Gracie has spotted a squirrel. 

We live by the six-foot bubble rule. Which, honestly, I've kind of expanded to a ten- to twelve-foot bubble because honestly, I'm on the side of extra caution.

But I'll tell you what. These sunny, warm March days are making things difficult. 

Gracie and I typically walk around 4:30 or 5 p.m., and what with kids home from school all day and daylight saving time having kicked in, that means the sidewalks have been unusually busy. 

I'm seeing a lot of

work-from-homers taking a break from the laptop to walk their dogs
pairs of mom in deep conversation
dads keeping up with kids on scooters, bikes, or roller blades
parents pushing strollers
and the occasional lone jogger. 

Practicing germ avoidance and proper courtesy at the same time, Gracie and I pull off the sidewalk whenever we encounter our fellow walkers, and give all passersby wide berth. 

Strangers often ask me how I keep Gracie from wandering into the street with her super long leash. The answer is simple: she just knows not to do that. She also stops at crosswalks like this one, and waits for me to catch up. Good girl. 

Granted, Gracie pads barefooted down the sidewalk and sticks her entire face into some fairly unsavory places, but then again, she doesn't have to worry about virus transmission. I, on the other hand, practice keeping my hands to myself.

Normally, I wear a pair of work gloves when I walk. Besides looking extraordinarily stylish, the gloves protect my hands while I'm handling Gracie's fifty-foot lead and I wear them unless we are in the hottest time of the summer. Which can sometimes last as long as a week. 

Even thus protected, my gloved hands don't come in contact with many surfaces as I walk - really just the leash.

"Take care of yourself and others. <3" Little post-it notes like this one have appeared all over the neighborhood and they make me smile. 

The only exception to that rule?

Crosswalk warning light buttons.

Twice on our daily route, Gracie and I cross a street that is not only busy but typically traversed by people who are in a rush. Let's just say that there are some speedy pants who do not like to idle their vehicles while notorious pedestrians and their big red dogs sashay across the street. And they tend to push the envelope, shall we say, of courtesy and common sense. 

So. I take full advantage of these crosswalk warning lights to help ensure a safe passage.

And to be extra safe, I bonk the switch with my elbow, rather than my glove-covered hand.

Even so, I wash my bare hands like the hounds of hell are after me when I get back home. I've even taken the precaution of keeping my gloves out on the front porch. Covid germs, you are not welcome inside.

Gracie has scented more than one raccoon in this section of our walk,and I suspect she may be on to one here. Either that, or she's stalking the blooming forsythia.

I would be naive to think that our walkabouts are completely safe. Even using my precautions, there's a risk of a preschooler bursting my bubble with an out-of-control bicycle, or a runner who comes up behind me and gets too close for comfort.

But as long as I can reasonably manage the risks, Gracie and I will keep walking. Taking in some sunshine and fresh air, watching spring burst forth, cranking up a bit of cardio - I need this daily routine to keep me sane.

Gracie's dinner is waiting for her at the end of our walk. Blink and you'll miss the entire meal. 

Same goes for Gracie. Our walk is a pivotal point in her day, the first step in a series of interesting experiences that involve her favorite activities: 

eating her own food, 

That nose goes places that get it into trouble. But we love her anyhow. 

and supervising the preparation of ours. 

So, Covid-19, I'll admit that you've really boxed us all in. And because I trust the science and want to end this siege as soon as possible, I'm willing to give up my freedoms and daily routines in order to halt your spread.

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