Hunker down – (verb): to make yourself comfortable in a place or situation, or to prepare to stay in a place or position for a long time, usually in order to achieve something or for protection. That’s the spot-on dictionary definition of what we’re all doing right now.
Hunker down. The expression has a nice ring to it. It’s what we did during the Blizzard of ‘78 when a monster nor’ easter paralyzed New England. It’s what we did during the winter of 2015 when 108 inches of snow fell on us and we thought it would never stop. We hunkered down and bought all the milk and bread we could get our hands on while we waited for the storms to pass. I did not expect to be hunkering down in the spring of 2020 while a viral pandemic sweeps the world and sweeps all of us off our feet as well.
I’ve been essentially self-quarantined at home since the beginning of March. It’s now the end of April. It’s Spring. The weather is changing for the better. My windows are open and fresh air is blowing in (I hope that’s all that’s blowing in). Birds are chirping. That’s a good sign. Black crows are not falling out of the sky…yet. That would be a bad sign.
From my favorite seat at my kitchen table, I have a great view of the bird feeder hanging in my backyard. Bird watching is my entertainment now. I also have a view of the gigantic rock ledge that takes up a third of my property. It looks like the top of a small mountain rising from the ground. Staring at the rock gives me inner peace in some kind of zen-like way. It’s unmovable. It’s embedded. It’s anchored. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Just like me.
Staying at home has never been a problem for me in the past. I know how to keep myself entertained. When I was a little kid, I loved rainy days because I could stay inside and write or draw, and no one told me I had to go outside and play. Now that I can’t go out, I want to even more.
I’ll admit after two months I’m going a little stir crazy. I haven’t driven my beloved Dodge Nitro for quite some time. The last trip I took was to the gas station to fill my tank. That was sometime in March. I haven’t driven since.
I think I’m getting “Cabin Fever”, which just happens to be the title of my favorite Eli Roth horror film. I’m glad I own the DVD because now I have time to watch it over and over and over again…
But I digress (I’ve always wanted to say that). I am lucky enough to have someone quarantined with me to share my misery. My wife works for a company that gave her an option to take a few weeks off with pay during the surge in virus cases. I’m happy she’s here with me. She’s my captive audience. I get to bounce all of my new ideas off her.
“What do you think of this cartoon?” I ask.
“I don’t get it,” she says.
“Want to hear my idea for a great new story?” I ask.
“I’m in the middle of a Hallmark movie right now,” she says.
“Want to see the video I made of me lip-synching songs by The White Stripes?” I ask.
I can take a hint.
On a side note: my wife called her employer and asked if she could return to work. I’m going to have to find a virtual audience. Thank God for FaceTime, Zoom and Google Hangouts. My recent attempts at mastering the video chat platform are filled with enough material for an entire column.
For now, I’m just going to hunker down. I’ve got lots of time to look up new expressions and word origins. I’ve got enough time to read the dictionary front to back, and then read the Bible when I’m done. I’ve got enough time to read every book I ever wanted to read. Heck, I’ve even got time to write one of my own. Like everyone else, I have time to watch every episode of every show on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’m going to hunker down and wait for this latest pandemic to pass. I just wonder how long I’ll have to wait. Until then, I discovered several YouTube videos with instructions on how to play piano, and I dusted off my electronic keyboard I found in the attic. I can’t wait for my wife to come home from work so she can hear my latest masterpiece. My cats seem to enjoy singing along. I think I found my new audience.