Sherman Yellen, as always, writes evocatively about physical and mental terrain. We “met” on Facebook a number of years ago because we both attended the High School of Music & Art, a place that looms large in the development of all, I think, who were lucky enough to go there.

Left behind
by Sherman Yellen, New York, NY

For awhile I secretly resented those who had fled their city apartments to some refuge in the Hamptons, Litchfield County or the Catskills, where many were resented by the local residents. And me. What I resented was not their effort to flee the virus — who knows, if I still had my car and country house I might have been amongst them, for what I miss is not the safety from the virus (nobody has that) but their ability to step outside their confining lodgings and step on to the new Spring grass, smile back at a daffodil, and enjoy that simplest of human pleasures, a contact with nature in the new season.

Living in the epicenter of the city plague, in olden times (a few months ago) I had always had this pleasure because of my proximity to Central Park. Every morning Sam the Lab and I took our outing in the park and felt more alive than we had when we started our ritual journey, Now Sam is living with my son, and his old Labrador legs have finally betrayed him so that he can barely walk half a city street — and when he returns to me I will be obliged to take him down the street and home and then walk the park alone — half the pleasure gone.

No tears — too many have lost too much — but I did not have a full understanding of what our park walks meant — how they lifted our lives — and now I have my birdsong at dawn, and the sight of the Carlisle Hotel glittering across the skyline — but the grass, the flowers, and even the random weeds are missing — and so I watch nature programs on PBS. I know more about the differences between a rabbit and a hare than I ever wanted to know — but it does not stop my longing for that park and the days of walking with my great canine friend than can never be recovered.

The compensating pleasure is that I am housebound with my wife of 67 years — and every day I find a goodness and decency in her that I had casually overlooked in our pre virus time together. That is a big blessing that surpasses the longing for new grass and the friendly face of a daffodil. And I try to transform the memory of those park walks with Sam into something that gives pleasure rather than regret — my assignment for the weeks ahead.

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