Airborne vs. Ground-based

In the past, I thought the word “airborne” referred to an aircraft being off the ground and in the air as it is taking off. Now I think of it as it might apply to the coronavirus. What exactly does it mean if the virus is “airborne?”  Can small particles remain suspended in the air for long periods of time, with more people becoming infected at a greater distance? Or is transmission only likely to occur when the virus spreads from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth? There seem to be different opinions but, whatever the differences, I think everyone agrees on one thing: self-isolation and social distancing are the surest ways of preventing the spread. And, on the other hand, it seems pretty clear that people travelling on airplanes could assist the fast and widespread passing of the virus.

Now that very few of us are airborne, many are enjoying being ground-based. Never have I heard so many people bragging happily about what great shape their gardens are in! Here in BC, with the recent sunny weather, a lot of folk are outside planting more vegetables than ever, pruning their trees, thinking about turning lawns into vegetable patches. We are rhapsodic about the blossoming trees and the appearance of daffodils and tulips.

I don’t have a garden myself, but the people who look after the grounds at my townhouse have created brilliantly colourful beds, and the delight I experience from the beauty of those flowers helps to balance the stresses the pandemic is causing. Today two friends brought me tulips which are brightening my living room and giving me great joy. As well, my neighbour dropped of eight small geranium plants which I will plant in pots on my patio tomorrow. I will eagerly await their blooming along with, perhaps, the nasturtium seeds I’ve planted — some of which will, I hope, survive the marauding of squirrels and robins who scatter soil about as they dig in my pots. (I don’t really begrudge those creatures their pleasures. It’s a time of generosity and connection with others.) When, on a rare outing, I drove by the home of a tulip-providing friend, I saw that she and several of her neighbours were out, well-distanced, puttering in their small gardens. Another friend tells me that it just feels good just to get her hands in the ground. “It is grounding,” she says.

It’s hard not to get a bit sentimental about gardens. I remember the lines of 18th century poet, Minnie Aumonier’s, “When the world wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.” That resonates these days. As do Theodore Roethke’s words, “God bless the ground, I shall walk safely there.”

These days, more than ever, being ground-based feels a lot better than being airborne ever did.

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