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Welcome to life under quarantine. Welcome to social distancing. Welcome to the new norm. Many of you can probably relate

The words you are currently reading were written from the comfort of a king size bed and I am still barefoot and dressed in pajamas.

In other rooms of my home, school-issued laptops are open in different locations as distance learning begins in earnest. My daughter is camped out in front of the gas fireplace, video-conferencing with her teacher and a few other classmates. On the stairwell sits my son, who proudly announces he scored 100 percent on one of his language arts quizzes.

Our exchange student from Thailand prefers the kitchen table for her online education efforts, which at times has served as my wife's new work-from-home office. Sometimes meals still take place there, but it's not uncommon for the parents to take their meals to the sofa.

Welcome to life under quarantine. Welcome to social distancing. Welcome to the new norm. Many of you can probably relate. Perhaps some of you now share impromptu work stations at the kitchen table. Maybe you have sat inside, pining for a break from the blustery, rainy and sometimes snowy weather so going outside is a bit more palatable. Maybe, like our household, on the nicer days you have started a garden or tried to spruce up the yard. Perhaps you have dusted off the bicycle or the running or hiking shoes. Or you may have resorted to cleaning the garage or starting that project that you swore you would get to once you got a "round tuit."

Times are strange. Times are scary. Our town, our state, our country and our world are dramatically different. On the rare occasions that I leave the house to get a few groceries or supplies, or head out for a jog, things just look and feel different. Few cars on the road, quiet storefronts and empty parks are now the rule, not the exception.

The internet and social media sites have become an endless barrage of COVID-19 news stories, memes and commentary from people everywhere. Sometimes the information is helpful and good to know, sometimes it is overwhelming and seemingly inescapable without unplugging from cyberspace.

My personal sources of entertainment have evaporated or changed in dramatic ways. Following my beloved Oregon Ducks' sports? Gone. Professional sports? Gone, although the classic games airing on certain TV channels can be interesting to watch. The lack of live sports has also effectively ended the once-continuous barrage of sports articles I had read to pass the time. Perusing Facebook is still an option, but it doesn't take long to get "COVID-lash" and make me yearn for something else.

Thank God running is still considered a viable form of leisure during our indefinite quarantine. In a time when options outside the home are severely limited, it is nice to hit the roads or the trails for a bit. Not surprisingly, I have donned the running shoes (and stocking hat, gloves and jacket) on a more frequent basis. I can't remember being in this good of shape since high school.

And I have discovered I'm not alone. While I have no quantifiable evidence to support this, I swear there are more people out jogging, cycling, walking and hiking than I have ever seen at this point of the spring. Cold weather hasn't deterred them. Perhaps they are as desperate for a break from this COVID-induced house arrest as I am.

Like all of you, I have no idea how long this will last. News articles can be maddeningly inconsistent. Some say we have a few weeks, others say months, before some of these social distancing mandates are lifted. But I will say this – this community sure knows how to adapt. Look no further for proof than all the take-out meal options that seemingly sprung up overnight or the three laptops my school-age kids are utilizing for distance learning. How impressive is it to see churches flip the switch to cyber-services? And it may look weird to see empty parks and so few cars on the Prineville streets, but it strongly suggests that people are staying home and keeping their distance from others.

Sometimes it's easy to forget that this is temporary. Sometimes the possibility of loved ones coming down with a scary and largely mysterious illness is frightening. But try not to dwell too much on the negative. Enjoy the little victories. Count your blessings. Get creative and find ways to entertain yourself and your family. Get outside – weather permitting – and enjoy the fresh air and start of a new spring.

Yes, times are tough, but they aren't void of positive moments. Soak them up, make the best of this and stay safe.


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