Thursday was the first day of spring 2020, the season of striking changes.
It seems to come upon us suddenly, not announcing itself with a whisper, but speaking confidently that something different has occurred; a glorious, dramatic revival is in place and our senses are responding to the change.
This year that change, that shock of the new, is unavoidable, even if we never notice a crocus standing where it wasn’t the day before. With the pandemic, a poet’s phrase, repeated many times, has never been more true: “All is changed, changed utterly.”
A deadly virus is producing a constant rearrangement of our lives — it’s like packing up and moving to a new house every day. What to take, what to leave, what will happen tomorrow?
There is new information almost hourly. People are being hospitalized, others are dying, and those numbers grow by the minute. Businesses are shuttering. It may be months before they can reopen.
Island employees are working from home, if they’re lucky. Many who can’t, such as those in the hospitality businesses, are being sent home with no work, but plenty of worries.
We’ve been hit by a blizzard of statistics. One startling fact is that, according to a survey by Charles Schwab, the multinational financial services company, 59% of U.S. adults say they live paycheck to paycheck. In addition, the survey found that these adults have credit card debt and “struggle to keep up with the payments.”
When we’re told that “we’re all in this together,” it means we have to help our neighbors, but also government must take action to ensure we can survive an economic hurricane.
Shelter Island officials, especially Police Chief Jim Read, who is the emergency manager coordinator for the town, and Supervisor Gerry Siller, have been open, steady and committed to keeping the Island safe and informed.
School Superintendent Brian Doelger and his team have been tireless in helping to continue the education of the Island’s students in a wise and understanding way.
On the county and state levels, officials have mobilized with solid plans to keep the future peak of the pandemic as low as possible, and bring essential services to the public.
Information has been a key, life-saving resource, coming from government sources and dedicated journalists.
Even the federal government, after a disastrous start of denial, disinformation, blame and bickering, is finally finding its feet to achieve its primary objective — ensuring the safety and security of Americans.
If someone can keep the president away from the podium during press briefings, it will all go much smoother.
On Shelter Island, spring has always meant many things, including the return of the piping plovers madly scurrying across beaches, joined by those great fish hawks, the ospreys, sailing above our heads. As two mothers, home with their children, told the Reporter, the Island’s open spaces, peace and beauty have been a godsend.
Along with the first daffodils nodding in the breeze and the bright bursts of forsythia glowing against the gray landscape has come the beginning of a new historical era, and Islanders are poised and prepared for what will come.