Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it, but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance.Charles Lindbergh
Challenging us this week with the theme of distance, Tina planted the idea of looking more closely at social distancing in Knoxville just as we were contemplating a drive around town to see what we could see.
We took that drive, and here’s a glimpse of what we found.
On Ebenezer Road in West Knoxville, someone or some group installed balloon columns sporting words that inspire happiness in these troubled times — Happy, Faith, Believe, Gratitude, Joy, etc. — making distancing a bit more tolerable knowing we’re all in this together.
Businesses, too, have made signs a priority. Most signs inform that a business is closed, but others, like Ham ‘n Goodys lessen the distance a bit. At this hometown institution, you can still order and take out Ham ‘n Goodys’ famous lemon cookies or maybe even a homemade cake (if you’re still celebrating something). And, get this: they ship!
Bearden Elemetary School, with frontage on a major thoroughfare — Kingston Pike — offered not one but two signs of the times: A date (that could change, of course) and a motto for today — Not Showing Up Is Half the Battle . . .
and the other side with a message about grandparents whose distance from grandkids is oh, so painful to bear!
In Sequoyah Hills, runners seemed to be cognizant of the six-feet apart rule . . .
but not so much at Lakeshore Park where groups, couples, and families walked the paths — sometimes alone, sometimes together.
If you’re driving through Knoxville, don’t miss the campus of the University of Tennessee, although you might not even recognize it if you’ve been here before. The whole campus is quiet, bare, empty. No worries about keeping collegiates an appropriate distance apart — there aren’t any collegiates around. UT called off classes about three weeks ago for the remainder of the semester with completion of work to be done online. So streets on campus that are normally filled with students, professors, and traffic jams are now eerily empty.
But it wasn’t so quiet at the UT Gardens. Couples strolled, families took pictures, and singles (like the girl in the picture at the top of this post) found something to do in the great outdoors.
Mother Nature, as we noted, had little to do with distancing, social or otherwise. Spring blooms were literally bursting out all over, mostly in bunches just as they were planted. Here and there, of course, a single tulip or member of the onion family might be a stand-alone, but for the most part, nature is almost as gregarious as we are.
Downtown, Cruze Farm Ice Cream was open for business — we just couldn’t go inside. Customers now stand at the door, place an order, scan their own credit card into a Square machine (no cash allowed), and wait as one of the famous Cruze Farm girls hands you a swirled ice cream in her matchy matchy mask. Who knew battling coronavirus could be so fashionable?
Finally, it was the Bijou Theatre‘s two-sided marquee that left us with a takeaway image. On the front side, the hope that we’ll all make it to the “other side” and . . .
on the back, the hope and assurance we all need.
So, please, love our city of Knoxville, but keep your distance.
We’re working hard to make life better here, even if social distancing is making us all a little bit crazy.
Rusha and Bert