October 1, 2020 by Jean
How can it be October already? As August turned to September, someone flipped a switch on Maine weather and we shifted from unusually hot summer weather to cool days and cold nights. Suddenly, it seemed that summer was over and fall had arrived, and time sped up as everything I need to do to get ready for winter loomed large. During the first week of September, I finished this summer’s big garden project. The following week, three cords of firewood were dumped in my driveway. Now I need to stack firewood, get my heat pump unit serviced, get new tires for my car, plant spring bulbs, put my garden to bed for the winter, and take in hoses, rain barrel and garden furniture. Whew! It feels as though we are zooming toward winter.
As summer has turned into fall and winter is suddenly just around the corner, the season of visiting with people on my porch is also coming to an end. Figuring out how to keep from being socially isolated this winter is a major concern for me. One way is to make dates for outdoor activities. One friend, for example, has invited me to come snow-shoeing with her on her property. But I know from past experience that I need to have meaningful interactions with others at least twice a week in order to feel connected through the winter, and I don’t think I can impose on my friend’s hospitality that often. This winter, I think I’m going to be relying more on virtual face-to-face interaction as a substitute for in-person interaction. Thus, I have also been Zooming into Fall virtually, through the video conferencing app Zoom.
On the Thursday after Labor Day, which would normally be the first evening of rehearsal for the new season of my choral singing group, our new director hosted a Zoom meeting for members of the chorale. About half of us attended, and it was great to see singing friends for the first time since spring and to hear about the new director’s plans for the chorale’s future. Three days after that Zoom meeting, I helped to host a Zoom memorial service for my friend who died in June. Because the memorial service was held virtually rather than in-person, we were able to gather together family and friends from around the country to share memories and celebrate her life.
In the weeks since, I’ve added still more Zoom interactions to my schedule, most of them sponsored by the local Senior College. I am teaching an eight-week Zoom course on the history of women’s activism in the United States. Because the woman suffrage movement is a focus of this course, a presidential election year that is also the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment is a great time to be teaching it. I’ve taught the course before in person so I’ve focused my preparation on how to make it work as a virtual experience. So far, it is going well. I’ve also joined a discussion group focusing on issues underlying the election. In three weeks, I will begin taking a four-week course about the economics of the pandemic. Two days ago, I received an email notice about a series of Zoom music workshops, and I may add a couple of these to my schedule, too.
It remains to be seen how well virtual interactions will offset the dearth of in-person interactions in my life this fall and winter. I’ve already learned from experience with Zoom that classes and workshops with an opportunity for interaction among participants work for me as forms of social interaction, while webinar-style events that ask for passive, silent attendance leave me feeling more socially isolated. As we Zoom through fall and into winter, I will probably continue to seek out opportunities for Zoom interactions so that I can pick and choose among them.