Here Are All the Things I Love Seeing Now.

Within days of my State closing schools and issuing stay home orders, I saw them popping up all over—chalk messages written on sidewalks. I was on my regular late afternoon walk with my little dog when I rounded a corner and stopped. It looked like a rainbow had dropped onto the sidewalk, stretching in front of me. As I walked, I found myself smiling at the sweet—and sometimes hilariously misspelled—messages carefully written in childish print. “Stay home to stay safe. Don’t wory (sic) be happy. We will get threw (sic) this. Smile and stay strong.”   Then, around another corner, I saw a bright hand-painted sign—definitely an artistic family.

A few days after, I noticed drawings of rainbows appear in the windows of houses. I had heard about these drawings starting in Italy, and here they were adorning homes in my part of the United States. As I walked past, I imagined the earnest faces as small hands clutched crayons to execute these works of art. Did the parents guide their children, or simply let them have a few minutes of carefree art? I stopped and—again—smiled as I noted the various levels of skill. 

A fortnight passed, the weather here in the northeast warmed, and people slowly started coming outdoors. I live in a quintessential American town, picture book pretty and ridiculously safe, so people are always out and about, but this was different.

From my enclosed front porch (windows on three sides, and one of my favorite spots in my house) I was shocked to see how many dogs lived in the houses around me! People I had only ever seen behind car windows or trudging wearily home from the 6:10 train were now walking dogs, travel mugs of coffee in hands. I grinned like a fool at all the smiley hounds with their happy-waggly tails. Even on weekdays, entire families emerged like butterflies from chrysalises, pushing strollers, guiding kids on scooters, or wobbling along on recently dusted off bicycles. I loved these family scenes featuring parents I had only ever seen bundling sports gear laden, backpack lugging kids into cars. 

Within days of the stay-home order, a guy on my block who has a deep wrap-around porch, set himself up as though holding court. I had always loved this house but never seen the occupants. Now, he smiled and waved at every passer-by. Conversations bubbled up, and I became an unwitting eavesdropper as these shouted chats drifted past for us all to hear. I loved seeing him so obviously in his element. 

The first Emergency Vehicles Parade had me running to the windows of my home office. The cacophony of sirens leading me to imagine Armageddon, but no, it was our local Fire Department, Police Department, Ambulance Corp, and DPW on their new mission: helping kids celebrate their birthdays. A stream of shiny fire trucks, police cars, and ambulances rolled past honking horns, blasting sirens and flashing lights before pulling up at the birthday kid’s home. I love that these vehicles, usually associated with terrible events, have become vehicles carrying joy. 

The bears came next, not real ones, the stuffed animal sort. It was April when I first noticed toy bears sitting, little plastic button-noses pressed to windows, looking out at the streets. I learned some sweet kid (channeling the lovely book, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” by Michael Rosen) came up with the idea. Now, I hear happy shouts and gleeful yelps as children out with the parents tally up the number of bears they’ve spotted. Even I’m delighted when I spot a well-hidden bear peeping out from behind a curtain.

The first Thank You, Essential Workers signs, blooming like dandelions on lawns, were hand-written posters. It wasn’t long before printed lawn signs sprung up everywhere thanking everyone on the frontlines. Gratitude filled the air. Then, blue ribbons to honor all health workers were looping around trees and festooning lamp poles. I love seeing it all.

Easter rolled around, and suddenly Easter Egg decals plastered the house windows. The local children were on their Easter Egg Hunt counting up the eggs. On Easter Saturday, scores of little ones waited on front steps and porches to see the giant Easter Bunny roll past on top of the Firehouse’s hook & ladder vehicle. Sitting in my porch room, I loved seeing the children’s faces when they spotted my eggs. Parents would nod and wave—another sweetly, happy moment.

This weekend is the traditional—if not meteorological—start to summer in the US, Memorial Day Weekend. Usually, a huge celebratory weekend with BBQs and trips to the Shore, many people will be staying put. So, my town asked us all to decorate a bicycle or if we didn’t own one, just to decorate our homes. Yesterday, I walked past two little girls eagerly wrapping their small bicycles in streamers, as their mom draped patriotic bunting along their porch railing. She laughed when she saw me notice her daughters’ endeavors. I loved seeing those miniature bikes tied up in yards of crepe paper ribbon. 

And finally, the humor. Yes, it had to happen; someone designated their sidewalk for Silly Walks. I can only imagine the laughter as the family watch from their windows to see all the silly walks.

When the news is filled with sadness and tragedy, I focus on these images. The simple sights and small, thoughtful acts take very little effort, but the joy they bring to all in my wonderful town makes it worth it.

What sights in your part of the world give you hope and make you happy?

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