|Yesterday, before the rain washed the chalk from the sidewalks.|
My hometown has always had its charms.
|Before sunset, April 28.|
Granted that New Milford, NJ, would not necessarily be described as mysterious, evocative or romantic. It's not like Paris, which I've always wanted to visit. Or New York, which will always be my favorite city.
But this past month, all hometowns -- no matter where we live -- have shared a life-and-death connection to the larger world. The pandemic's common denominator is part of an equation that has changed perspectives everywhere.
Ordinary life is now filled with ghosts. Even the NJ Transit buses that still travel up and down River Road are all empty.
In New Milford, I usually start the day with a run. Here's what 7:30 a.m. looked like on April 14:
And this is what the streets look like before 8 p.m.:
Everything is closed. Well, except for Joe's Beer Wine & Spirits:
The churches are all locked:
But, outside, there are symbols and signs of Heaven all around:
Including in all the color of the blossoming trees:
This year the Easter Bunny, surrounded by police officers, waited for cars to circle past in the parking lot of the empty Shop-Rite:
This is right next door to CareOne at New Milford, a senior center where -- as state officials reported on April 20 -- COVID cases numbered 64 and COVID deaths totaled 17.
Meanwhile, wild animals are reclaiming the land. During a walk on April 20, I saw deer roaming the suburban streets. There are no woods nearby.
On the morning of April 21, I thought, from afar (below left), that abandoned pink latex gloves had been blown against the branches of a tree. I went to clean them off before my run... and discovered they were flowers.
During a walk on April 28, I took this photo of a house a distance from my own. I was struck by the message ("Persevere") in the bay window:
I didn't realize, until I posted the image on Instagram, that the house belongs to someone I know. It's a great family, and many years ago the husband had come to my house to tune an old piano.
I have a digital piano now, and lately I have more time to play... mostly sad songs, like "Mad World" and "Philadelphia." (I also wrote a sad, COVID-inspired short story, during hours when I would normally be commuting to New York.)
On a cold, damp night last Friday, my wife lit a fire, and I plugged in my headphones so the piano wouldn't disturb her.
I'm not sad, though. Deep down, I'm hopeful. I look forward to a different life ahead.
I plan to change a few things.
Someday, I know now in my heart, I really will visit Paris.