Saturday, March 20, 2021
Doesn’t it make sense to celebrate New Year’s on the first day of Spring? We’ve reached the time of year when, in the Northern Hemisphere, the daylight grows a little longer than the night each day and we look forward to having more sunshine. I remember our first year in Iran when our neighbors invited us to come over and jump over the fires with them. My brother and I were so excited about this new idea and even my mom and dad joined in. We cleaned house, admired the neighbors’ haft sin table, and went on a picnic with Dad’s colleagues from the University. Minstrels came around the neighborhood. It was thirteen days of anticipating the next happy event, introducing us to a new way to celebrate the New Year.
For more about Nowruz, look back at “Happy New Year–Again!” (Mar. 20, 2015) https://historysedge.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/happy-new-year-again/https://historysedge.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/happy-new-year-again/ . CNN had a good article about it (link below) as did several other news sources. I’m happy to see that Nowruz is alive and well in Orange County and I hope it is being celebrated where you are as well.
The last time I set up a haft sin table was in 2018. Why is that? I ask myself, and then I remember: the Pandemic. Oh yes, it’s still here like a grouchy guest who doesn’t want to go anywhere or do anything and doesn’t want you to either.
So how are we doing, a year and two weeks into this thing? It’s really a good news and bad news situation right now. I really don’t know how the next few months is going to play out. At the moment, here and now, things look hopeful.
Signs of opening up:
- I had lunch with a friend in Freedom Village, the retirement home I lived in before my husband passed away. They had been locked down for most of a year. Now there is a protocol for visitors that involves a health questionnaire, gown, temperature check, and hand wash station. Masks, of course. We ate lunch in her apartment and caught a glimpse of the Irish dancers entertaining folks in the rose garden patio.
- My church is planning indoor services for Easter Sunday.
- The group I sing with, the Festival Singers, are looking at dates for a Christmas concert in December, which conflict with….
- The travel plans I’ve made for December.
Think about it. My calendar is almost totally blank for the whole year, and I suddenly have a date conflict in December. That tells a story right there about how cautious we are about making major plans. Somebody says, can you do X in December and I think “yes!” because of course we will be out of this by December.
The scary thing is: I thought the same thing last year. About last December.
Reasons for being concerned:
- New variants: This virus is adept at forming new variants. The CDC and WHO now have a classification system for variants, labeling those that spread faster, are less susceptible to vaccines, or cause more severe disease “variants of concern.” The B.1.1.7 variant is spreading fastest in the United States right now and may be 20-30% of cases. The P.1 variant, dominant in Brazil, spreads even faster and is already in 2 dozen other countries. We are chasing a moving target.
- New surges: Some European countries are experiencing an upsurge in cases without having declined below half of their November peak. France put a new partial lockdown in place just last night ( on Friday, March 19, 2021). Italy and Poland have also recently put new restrictions in place. We don’t like lockdowns. Politicians realize by now that they are a good way to get unpopular fast. These are hard decisions.
- No country is an island. Well, some are, but you know what I mean. People move around for any number of reasons, even now. As long as Covid is spreading anywhere, the variant-surge issues will continue, igniting hot-spots here and there, like forest fires.
I could paint a worst-case scenario, but not today. At the moment, there are small signs of things opening up, signs of life.
Today’s Notable Headlines
“More than 300 million people will celebrate Nowruz (and you should, too),” CNN, Mar. 20, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/nowruz-2021-explainer-trnd/index.html
“CDC, WHO Create Threat Levels for COVID Variants,” WebMD, March 18, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20210318/cdc-who-create-threat-levels-for-covid-variants
“A more contagious coronavirus variant is spreading across the US. Can vaccines stop it?” CNN, Mar. 20, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/20/health/variant-b117-vaccines-work/index.html
“No vaccines, no leadership, no end in sight. How Brazil became a global threat,” CNN, Mar. 20, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/20/americas/brazil-coronavirus-crisis-vaccine-distribution-shortfalls-latam-intl/index.html
“New Lockdowns In Europe As COVID-19 Cases Soar; Pakistan’s PM Tests Positive,” NPR, March 20, 2021. https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/03/20/979502955/new-lockdowns-in-europe-as-covid-19-cases-soar-pakistans-pm-tests-positive
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center, March 20, 2021. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/
Why am I doing this?
The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. I intend to journal the pandemic experience from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, as a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary world crisis.
You are on History’s Edge.