Friday, April 3, 2020

Dispatch from Dublin

by Eliza Factor
founder of Extreme Kids & Crew

I clean, I cough, I ponder seedlings and prevailing winds.  We are up in New Hampshire, to be near Felix, but due to Covid 19 we cannot visit him.  We can only wait, and growl at our internet connection, which comes via satellite and wavers when the clouds go by.  Time expands. My heart contracts.   A middle aged adult resident at Felix’s school has died.  But Felix is healthy, far removed, in good spirits.

You can’t hear sirens here.  You hear the wind blowing through the branches, chickadees, our dog barking at his own invisible threats.  I attack the storeroom behind the garage, in the hopes of resuscitating a work bench back there.  I sweep up years’ worth of mouse pellets that might carry the hantavirus, a silty layer of dust that might trigger my asthma.  I swab inky black blobs that might be black mold. None of it bothers me.  That’s the thing about wartime thinking. Get a shiny new repository of fear and the old ones fade into has-beens. I wonder if molds, motes and viruses hold microscopic conventions. If they ponder best practices for tamping down the human population. If they consider Covid 19 their reigning champion.

I told Felix it was heroic of us, remaining in our respective houses, meeting only over the phone.  We are being Daoist superheroes, fighting the disease by doing nothing.  “Ha ha ha!” he roared. He has been in a marvelous mood recently, laughing up a storm.  Maybe it amuses him.  We, who usually hurry everywhere, stepping into his slower, stationary world, making a big deal of what for him is quite ordinary.  Maybe he is a vanguard, lighting the way for stillness, uncertainty, isolation. I don’t know.  I just know that I’m grateful he’s happy. 

His sisters, not so much.  They are bored out of their minds. A friend is working on a community art project in Washington D.C.  The idea is to draw pictures, display them in your windows, tag your address on a treasure map.  That way neighbors walking their dogs or trying to get a breath of fresh air in a responsible, socially distant way can go hunting for art.
“Maybe the girls would like to do something like that,” she suggested.
“We don’t have people walking by,” I said.  “We’re in the woods.” 
“You’ve got foxes. Make art for the foxes.”
            After the girls’ daily bout with Google Classroom, I suggested we collect material from the forest, make figures, arrange them in the hollows of trees.  They listened politely.  They didn’t say no.  They are in middle school. That’s about as good as it gets. We tromped along the path, the dog bounding ahead, Miranda lagging behind. 
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
I considered a stick ledged with fungi. She tripped in a puddle.
“Are you OK?”
She looked like she was about to cry. “Please, please do not make me do pine cone art.”
And so it goes. No art for the foxes.  But she did paint this:


Good luck everyone.  Next week, a dispatch on your art.  Hang in there!   


  1. Learning card tricks ??Backgammon? Love to you all and Miranda I love the little fishes and your sky!

  2. It is a beautiful painting, and I have to agree on no pine cone art! We miss you guys. One activity that might interest Miranda is the National Theatre in London is streaming plays. This week is One Man Two Govs with James Cordon.

  3. I had no idea I had a screen name. You will just have to puzzle out who it is!