Sunday, March 15, 2020

Tucson, AZ: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 1

Jícama on sale at Food City. Tucson, Arizona. March 2020.

As with many of us, I am watchful of the phenomena surrounding the eruption of COVID-19 née coronavirus or, as I've heard from my English-studying students, simply "corona."

I am fortunate. I have the luxury to be watchful in a detached way - for now.

I work remotely in two income streams thus far unaffected by the pandemic, so I can simply continue working as before. At least, that is my reality today.

And as an introvert who enjoys her cave time, the encouragement for all of us to stay home to help #flattenthecurve is a pass for guilt-free solitude.

But the ripple effect on so many from the closures of school, restaurants and bars, musical performances, festivals, museums ... It is awe-ful. Both awful and, at the same time, a phenomenon that compels one's respect for a lumbering, bellowing storm that bends low the trees around you, and darkens the sun.

Chicken liver omelette from Bobo's. Tucson, Arizona. January 2020.

It is odd to stay mostly at home in these days, where virtually all of one's conversations (both social and work-related) touch on "corona," and then to make a shopping or visiting foray, and things appear - on the surface - normal. (Well, except for some of the empty shelves at the markets.)

As I write this, it reminds me of my visit to Bayou Corne in South Louisiana, the epicenter of an astonishing sinkhole that released billows of methane gas, and threatened to suck the town into its dragon mouth. From appearances, animal and plant life seemed almost to throb with robust health, like a person whose rosy cheeks belie a burning fever within.

And this brings me to my photos in today's post.

I went to Food City yesterday for my jícama re-supply, and lo! There was a gigantic bin of jícama! On sale! And it was gloriously fresh jícama, with smooth, baby skin, promising juicy-licious crunch within. As I approached the bins, with angels singing in my head, a man also approached. We each stood before the bin, reverently. Albeit strangers, he and I exchanged words of love over the smooth infant heads. "With lime juice and Tajin?" "Oh, yes!" We smoothed our hands affectionately over the tender globes. We gathered little ones into our respective carts. And parted.

This morning, a Sunday, en route to visit a friend, I passed an iconic Tucson restaurant: Bobo's. Just like every Sunday morning, people hovered around the entrance, waiting for their turn at a breakfast table.

I had entered this holy temple with a friend in January, and I ordered a chicken liver omelette. About as rare a delicacy as fettucine alfredo with chicken livers. In the photo, you can see how plump the omelette is, shiny with flavorful grease, pregnant-to-popping with the chicken livers and sour cream within.

The semblance of normalcy.

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