It has recently occurred to me that time seems to have become something of a pandemic paradox, both hanging heavy on my hands while also seeming to fly by at almost warp speed.

Day by day by seemingly endless day there is little to distinguish one time frame from another as I drift along to what at some point will be an inevitable conclusion. And no, I am not at all depressed, just allowing my mind to play with thoughts and words with which I tend to amuse myself. The point here being that life spent safely sheltering at home is boring beyond belief.

An early riser by nature, I generally roll out of bed somewhere between 4:30 and 6 a.m., make my bed (yes, I am one of those people), walk to the kitchen to put the kettle on for tea, and head for the bathroom.

Ablutions completed, I watch the Channel 12 weather forecast before logging onto my iPad, first checking to see what words I missed in yesterday’s New York Times Spelling Bee before tackling the current daily challenge. That done, news junkie that I am, I then settle down to read my New York Times online before turning on the TV to watch the news on CNN and MSNBC.

The rest of the day is parceled out between reading, working on the ever-present jigsaw puzzle set up on a folding table in the living room since there’s no company coming anyway, and alternately cooking and eating. Late afternoon it’s back to cable news (with the exception of weather forecasts and football I don’t watch regular network television), falling asleep in my chair (a new “old person” thing I can’t believe is happening to me), and then crawling back into bed way too early so I can “lather, rinse, and repeat” again the next day.

Back in the old days, pre-March 16, 2020, my life had a rhythm and a pace to it. Monday morning was pitch league at the Senior Center, Tuesday mornings it was the knitting group here at my house, Wednesday mornings were mostly for appointments of various kinds with another pitch league in the evening, Thursday mornings bowling, and on Fridays I’d write this column before declaring that I was “now on my weekend,” and free to play cards with my sister Bev and my brother-in-law Marcel.

I always knew what day it was. I always had something special to do.

Then it all changed. Friday became the only meaningful day of the whole week. My sole measure of passing time. And then, paradoxically, the seemingly swift arrival of each Friday made it seem as though time was flying by. With nothing between one Friday and the next it was kind of like Groundhog Day all over again.

But, it wasn’t until just a few days ago that it suddenly dawned on me that it wasn’t just the weeks that were slipping by, but whole seasons as well.

The windows had all been installed and exterior work on the house almost completed, and on the freezing cold and windy day last Sunday, Mike, owner of Capitol Siding (I promised him a plug) had been here most of the day to finish up a few last details. Yes, the siding and the house looked great, but its surroundings looked in sad shape.

Normally, during warmer weather, the various shrubs and profusion of flowers gave the place a warm and welcoming look. But in the dead of winter, particularly after having had all the shrubbery severely hacked back to allow easy access for the siding people, it looked pretty bad.

Now I realize how stupid this will probably sound, but with the freezing arctic cold wind blowing a gale as my friend Ralph used to say, and my face and finger going numb, I decided I really needed to try to brighten things up a bit out there by changing the flags. You know those small decorative garden flags that you sometimes see flapping in the breeze on lawns and near front steps? Well for several years now I have marked every holiday and every season with appropriately themed flags. But with the construction in progress and me still recuperating from surgery, the Christmas ones had stayed in place too long. They were looking tired and sad, but with the siding done, it was time for change.

It was as I sifted through my flag collection looking for the snowman flags that I realized how many seasons had cycled past since lockdown had begun. The St. Patrick’s Day flag had come down within days of lockdown, followed by Easter, spring, summer, Fourth of July, fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. All of this since the last time I had bowled, played pitch, golfed, or knitted with friends. It seemed like a lifetime.

And so with snowmen in hand I was out there in the bitter cold last Sunday, putting up new flags. I fully realized as I was doing it that battle scarred as the landscaping now looked, hanging two small flags to spiff things up was like putting lipstick on a pig, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. In these bleak, slow creeping pandemic days, those silly snowmen manage to put a smile on my sad little face (I’m being facetious here) whenever I walk out the door.

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.

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