We stroll the canines throughout the meadow within the rain. We don’t speak a lot. We say the identical issues again and again, and but by some means there’s consolation within the repetition. Yesterday somebody wrote in town listserv that sure canine homeowners had been noticed within the meadow lower than six ft away from one another. Suddenly, everyone’s a cop, yardsticks of their minds.
People are scared, and with good purpose. But distance — the concept of distance. Were we so shut to start with? How far will we be from one another after that is over? The canines, off leash, circle again to us. I’ve obtained the sense they know what’s occurring, if not the particulars. But one thing is most undoubtedly up. For starters, how come we’re all residence on a regular basis?
Other rituals emerge, some outdated, some new. Sitting on the porch in Phoenix. Picking the citrus bushes of once-anonymous neighbors in Los Angeles. The poles are built-in social distancing. No want for the measuring tape.
Below are 13 American scenes, snapshots of neighbors discovering authentic methods to reconnect.
It’s good to stroll on this rain. I’m not saying every part has turn out to be so treasured these unusual days. Only that you simply discover extra, how the winter grass is available in so many shades of brown, the netless soccer objectives the other way up like lonely parallelograms (badly, I attempt to train my child math). And the way in which our speak goes nowhere however even empty phrases have a little extra weight now, just like the stones we throw once we pause on the brook.
—Peter Orner, from Norwich, Vt.
Michele Grey started noticing them in early April: citrus bushes ripe for the choosing however out of arm’s attain. They studded entrance lawns and backyards within the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, the place Ms. Grey, 53, has lived for 20 years, and which she, her husband, Joaquin, and son, Lucas, have been exploring on day by day walks since stay-at-home orders closed many native parks and trails.
Surely, they thought, somebody may benefit from this bounty of oranges and lemons, if the homeowners of the bushes didn’t need them themselves. They purchased two 12-foot fruit pickers — suppose again scratchers, however larger — and Ms. Grey went on Nextdoor, an internet group message board.
She wrote that her household “would be happy to pick your fruit,” for free of charge, “supply you with some, donate to neighbors, and then provide some to nearby food banks.” “We would wear masks and gloves and keep strict social distancing,” she added.
Over the previous month, the Greys have collected about 1,000 kilos of fruit, most of which they’ve donated to meals banks. Their newfound passion has had an sudden byproduct — common meet-ups with strangers turned pals, just like the Nilsson household, who stay close to the Greys.
“They kept to themselves, and we never socialized much with them,” in addition to an occasional “hi,” Ms. Grey mentioned. “We asked if we could pick their very full tree of tangerines, they said yes, and now we’re talking about seeing more of each other after this is all finished.”
Then there’s the younger lady who lives up the hill from the Greys. She was strolling down the road when Ms. Grey drove by, oranges virtually falling off the again of her pickup truck. “I could tell that she was super-sad,” Ms. Grey mentioned. She pulled over and came upon the lady was recent off a breakup.
“We started talking and now we’re taking oranges to her house,” Ms. Grey mentioned. “We’ve become friends.”
Though the Greys initially used the web to join the citrus haves with the have-nots, they’re more and more having extra luck offline. “On our walks, I’m having massive interaction,” mentioned Joaquin Grey, plucking mandarins off a 30-foot tree belonging to one other new acquaintance, Naomi Wong, on a latest Saturday. Before, he mentioned, “I never would’ve gone up to someone and asked if I can pick their tree.”
The probability conferences take many varieties. While her husband and son tackled the mandarin tree, Ms. Grey sorted oranges into buckets and luggage on the again of the truck, pausing anytime somebody walked by. “Take as many as you want,” she mentioned to a man in a white face masks (he took three).
“They’re a little sour, I’ve been told,” she mentioned to a man with a purple bandanna round his mouth, “so perhaps con tequila.” He left with a bag.
On a cool Saturday night throughout Easter weekend, automotive fans and different stir-crazy Kansans resurrected an old style drag route by the center of city.
During the late 1800s, Douglas Avenue was the ultimate dusty stretch of the Chisholm Trail, alongside which cowboys drove cattle from Texas to Kansas stockyards and railroad hubs. In the 1950s, youngsters drove Fords and Chevrolets backwards and forwards over the identical flat street by downtown and the historic Delano District, the place outlaws and homes of sick reputation as soon as raised hell.
That customized fell out of vogue within the 1990s, however lately native breweries, boutiques, eating places and business storefronts have reinvigorated the thoroughfare. Now they sit closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, casting quiet upon the financial lifeline that turned Wichita into a boomtown 150 years in the past.
As the solar set on April 11, although, a procession of vehicles, vans and bikes packed the outdated cruise route. Muscle-car engines revved, fireplace truck horns honked and small packs of bikers throttled their Harleys.
Hundreds of humble sedans, minivans and S.U.V.s rolled alongside quietly with their home windows down, drivers and passengers of all ages waving at each other and shouting “hi” from a protected distance. At least one pair of spectators emerged from their condominium on Douglas to arrange garden chairs on the sidewalk and drink Bud Light.
It all began with a public put up to a Facebook group devoted to bringing again “dragging Douglas” — an remoted but communal type of leisure excellent for the instances. “SOCIAL DISTANCING CAR CRUISE?” the put up learn. People in neighboring small cities had just lately finished simply that, circling their very own streets as in the event that they have been youngsters free after the final college bell.
A Facebook occasion, “Cruise Douglas — Quarantine Edition,” quickly circulated, encouraging the group to “go old school.” Organizers emphasised public well being: “Due to COVID-19 we need to maintain social distancing so everyone MUST stay in their cars.”
The occasion went easily in that regard, and Wichita cops reportedly abstained from handing out tickets when a handful of riders aboard high-speed bikes illegally popped wheelies. Police finally blocked the road after a handful of dangerous actors street-raced and did burnouts.
“Everyone is scattered out now,” somebody posted to social media as the gang dispersed simply earlier than eight p.m. “No well known new spot.”
All too usually, the situation generally known as “mom brain” will get a dangerous rap. Sure, it’s a survival method that may trigger sensory overload, a results of an excessive amount of multitasking. But typically it is available in actually helpful, like when a father or mother is attempting to work and lift a household throughout a pandemic.
Take as Exhibit A: Christina DeHaven, 40, who discovered herself attempting to maintain her video producing enterprise afloat from residence whereas additionally overseeing Jack, 9, and Annie, 7, whereas giving her husband, Matthew, who works in videoconference engineering, house and time to get his work finished, too. (Anyone who asks why this was Christina’s job has been residing in self-isolation lengthy earlier than the coronavirus struck.)
The concept that gave her household much-needed respiration room got here from cardboard containers — those her kids usually use for varsity tasks. And from their a number of stuffed animals. And the truth that the household lives in Woodland Heights, a kid-friendly and barely eccentric Houston neighborhood the place it was nearly inconceivable to keep inside when the sky was crystalline and the air was nonetheless cool and jasmine-scented.
What Ms. DeHaven got here up with was: “Hey kids, why don’t you build a zoo for all our neighbors to visit?”
The end result took about three days. Jack and Annie researched their animals and posted indicators containing 5 details subsequent to each show field hanging from the fence of their entrance yard.
There are cardboard cages for furry, glassy-eyed foxes, cats, canines (“Three dogs survived the Titanic sinking!”), horses, penguins, bunnies, bobcats, wolves, leopards, cows and kangaroos. (“Kangaroos are strict herbivores, however they release methane like most cattle.”)
There can also be a stay exhibit: tadpoles swimming in a plastic storage bin, gathered from puddles after considered one of Houston’s typical downpours. “People keep coming back to check on the tadpoles,” Ms. DeHaven mentioned. “They want to know if they have legs yet.”
So far, the guests have been enthused but additionally well-behaved, observing social distancing. An artwork board for drawing extra animals has been added, with disinfected Sharpies offered. “We don’t leave things out because of germs,” Jack defined.
There was delicate misery when one of many bunnies went lacking. “Let’s make signs,” Ms. DeHaven instructed her kids.
There was some dialogue in regards to the phrase “stolen” — Jack needed to use it, however his mom thought that was a little harsh. “They settled on ‘Missing, Escaped or Poached,’” Ms. DeHaven mentioned. The authentic bunny by no means turned up, however a neighbor introduced a substitute.
“He and his girlfriend put it in the bunny habitat and didn’t even say anything,” Ms. DeHaven mentioned.
Behind a sequence of metal gates and doorways sits a solitary barber’s chair. The wall is roofed in Los Angeles Lakers memorabilia and U.S. Marines swag like a missile launcher and a few medals from the War on Terror. There are mirrors and gear containers which have been transformed to maintain hair clippers.
For Angel M. and his loyal prospects, this tiny entice home barbershop deep within the coronary heart of Southeast Los Angeles makes do. Since the pandemic hit, the earnings helps Angel, 34, pay his mortgage and the hire on his boarded-up neighborhood store.
“I do a client every hour, and it takes about half an hour per haircut,” he mentioned. “The hour gives me enough time to take my time with the haircut but also to clean and disinfect the whole area, my tools and everything that they touch.” He works in a masks and gloves, which could gradual most individuals down however not a former Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“As a Marine, you can always adapt to anything on any level,” he mentioned. “You’re just used to that. So that’s the easy part.”
He mentioned the arduous half has been making the makeshift barbershop “welcoming and comfortable” for his shoppers.
Three days earlier than the official orders got here down, closing all nonessential companies, he was already planning for the worst-case state of affairs. He began taking elements of his barbershop residence.
“I had this man cave I liked to hang out in when I wanted to get away from the house,” mentioned Angel, who lives together with his spouse and 9-year-old son. “So I just took out my couches and put in my barber chair. And then I put in two LED lights so I can get some good lighting in there. I got an air purifier to make sure there’s constant clean air.”
Though he started with choose shoppers, Angel has expanded his checklist because the shutdown lingers. The extra shoppers, the extra earnings.
Most of them are his most loyal — what he calls “my weeklies.” And despite the fact that he trusts them with the key location of his transformed man cave, he makes positive to ask them in the event that they’ve had any coronavirus signs. A number of instances he’s had folks cancel due to a cough or fever.
“It’s no big deal,” he mentioned. “In the military, 99 percent of the time you’re doing things without knowing what you’re really doing.”
Until routines and lives have been upended, these have been the individuals who smiled and waved from inside vehicles that disappeared behind computerized storage doorways.
They emerge because the solar dips within the horizon, ushering within the cool air that tempers the spring warmth in Phoenix; the primary 100-degree day is just days forward. At the foot of the hill, two sisters, ages eight and 11, draw angels on the sidewalk exterior their residence. Next door, a actual property agent sips a beer from the stone bench round a fireplace pit that isn’t lit.
At the following home over, Kathi Marston, an educator, and her associate, Mike Neill, the chief monetary officer at a credit score union, have fun their back-to-back birthdays. They simply turned 51 and 54. A pair — he’s Mr. Neill’s greatest good friend — joined them on the entrance porch, on foldout chairs that Ms. Marston had fastidiously positioned eight ft aside. She left the measuring tape on the ground to show it.
A neighbor up the hill rolled previous the celebration on her bike. “Happy birthday,” she mentioned, a visitor in an intimate get together that the coronavirus pandemic has pressured into full view.
Until routines and lives have been upended, these have been the individuals who smiled and waved from inside vehicles that disappeared behind computerized storage doorways. Widespread shutdowns and social distancing have pressured them out — on to entrance yards and sidewalks that double as canvas and playground for his or her kids and themselves.
Neighbors get to meet neighbors they’d seen earlier than however with whom they’d exchanged few if any phrases. There is the couple with two daughters, identified till just lately by solely the sparsest of particulars: They’d moved into the massive home that changed the outdated home that was razed after its authentic proprietor died.
The bike-riding neighbor pulled up exterior the true property agent’s residence and walked to the spot the place the sidewalk meets her yard. That line of demarcation, as soon as comfortably breached by acquainted faces, is now a line that everybody is aware of not to cross.
They make small speak; the drawing women’ mom subsequent door joins in from the opposite aspect of the knee-high wall that divides their properties. “Let me go grab a drink,” she mentioned, returning shortly with a glass of white wine.
The neighbors sipped their drinks, talked and monitor the monetary adviser who walked by holding his youthful daughter’s arms. The bike-riding neighbor launched everyone; they’d by no means seen each other till then. Nobody comes close to. Nobody shakes arms. That’s OK.
A number of homes over, the celebration carried on. Mr. Neill’s greatest good friend introduced his personal paper plates and cutlery in a picnic basket. Ms. Marston offered plastic cups. They raised their glasses within the air, removed from each other, in a neighborhood that now feels nearer than ever.
Downtown Carrboro is an particularly unusual place to be so quiet. Crowds of households, pals and colleagues aren’t gathering exterior the meals co-op or hanging out on the espresso store to say howdy, to catch up, to make plans.
The city could also be a little sleepier than neighboring Chapel Hill, residence to the normally bustling University of North Carolina, however Carrboro has noise in its bones. The venerable Cat’s Cradle, a common tour cease for indie bands and greater acts, is right here. And Merge, the influential indie rock label based by the Superchunk bandmates Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance, as soon as had its workplace on the town, earlier than relocating down the street to Durham.
If you drive away from downtown, towards Route 54, and switch off the principle street down a busy aspect road, you’ll discover a smaller street known as Glosson Circle. It’s hidden away, lined with ranch homes shaded by just-bloomed bushes. A road signal says it’s a useless finish.
The neighbors there are shut, and lots of communicate on a group textual content named “Awesome Glosson.” When it turned out a number of on the road had upcoming birthdays, the neighborhood determined to discover a approach to have fun.
Seemingly earlier than something had been absolutely determined, on a significantly stunning afternoon, the Awesome Glosson Block Party started. “I’m not sure whose idea it was,” mentioned John Harrison, a 47-year-old musician who lives on the street. “But like most things with us it just sort of happened.”
People dragged tables and chairs out to the edge of the street on both sides. In each yard, the seats spread out the way seating spreads out now: as near as can be while still safe. Grills were lit.
Music played from speakers, but then people couldn’t hear each other talking across the road, so they shut it off. People ate and drank and caught up. Neighbors filtered in and out. Dogs ran in front yards. Everyone stayed close to the road so that if others happened onto their block party, they could join in.
As night came on, people set up fire pits. The party continued. The road that connected these neighbors kept them safely apart. “There was talk of doing it again,” Mr. Harrison said. “We are all pretty close, but also not very organized or predictable, so who knows?”
Several weeks back, an argument broke out by the halibut at Dirk’s Fish, a Chicago seafood store.
Chris Bray, the manager, recalled that it began when a longtime customer openly flouted the protocols of social distancing. And he didn’t wear a mask.
An elderly woman, another longtime regular, let the man have it. “‘Listen, we’re trying to stay six feet apart!’” Mr. Bray remembered the woman saying, rather brusquely.
The man dismissed it: “‘We’re all going to get the virus anyway!’”
Said the woman: “‘Well, I don’t want to get it from you!’”
Mr. Bray rang out both customers as quickly as he could.
Luckily, that situation was an anomaly for the shop, which has operated in the Lincoln Park neighborhood since 2003. Back on March 21, the state of Illinois shut down all nonessential businesses. (Seafood shops were deemed essential.) In the nearly six weeks since, Dirk’s Fish has done more business than in any previous six-week period.
Dirk Fucik, the owner, is a gregarious presence who could pass for the Empire Carpet man. He said there have been two stages of customer behavior. During the early days of the pandemic, it was the Hoarding Phase, in which 20-pound orders of salmon weren’t uncommon.
Frozen tubs of lobster bisque and tuna chili were snatched up as if they were toilet paper. Customers would ask: “How long can I keep fish?” (Fresh salmon and halibut could stay in the fridge for up to four days; skate lasts 24 hours before it becomes ammoniated, Mr. Fucik said.)
Then the Hoarding Phase gave way to the Indulgence Stage. Customers who’d order the same fish each time branched out to more exotic species. “There aren’t any restaurants open, and customers must think, ‘Life’s too short, let’s eat well,’” Mr. Fucik, 63, said.
On a recent morning, a steady stream of customers in masks flowed through. No fisticuffs were witnessed.
Many regulars who frequented the shop said they now visited more regularly. All said supporting mom-and-pop businesses was a big reason, but there’s also the routine and pre-pandemic normalcy in coming here. Here was a place to see familiar faces, chitchat about the calamitous end-times and pick up cod fillets.
“People like to say, ‘Let’s travel to this exotic place, let’s try this new restaurant,” said Michelle de Vlam, 60. “In the end, you want something familiar. Something that makes you feel safe and secure during this whole horribleness.”
Another customer, Kristyn Caliendo, 51, originally planned to have her grouper and Atlantic salmon delivered. At the last minute, she decided to take her 7-year-old, Jack, and their shepherd mix, Uma, to pick up their fish curbside.
“I’ve not been to a place of business since March 17,” Ms. Caliendo said. “I felt we needed to get out and see human faces.”
‘We asked for
masks to give to people
or hurting otherwise.’
Charleston, West Virginia
The Community Organizers
“When we say we’re going to meet for a drop-off at a gas station, people just suddenly appear. It’s like a flash mob,” Joe Solomon said. “We haven’t seen these kind of numbers in a while.”
Mr. Solomon, 37, was talking about his work with Solutions Oriented Addiction Response (SOAR), which he described as a “ragtag community group” that uses harm reduction — primarily getting Narcan into the hands of those who need it — to combat the opioid epidemic in and around Charleston, W.Va. (A native of Long Island, Mr. Solomon went to West Virginia first to fight mountaintop removal and stayed to work with addicts.)
Stacy Kay, 49, a harm reduction specialist with the group, said that when she drives up to the drop-off with supplies — masks, hand sanitizer, generic Narcan, and occasionally food — people see her and they’re “ready for a hug.” “We can’t do that right now,” she said. “We’re doing a lot of waving. Joe has a piece of chalk. He makes clear what six feet is.”
In addition to their regular work, SOAR has been distributing masks donated by the West Virginia Mask Army, a group that sews masks primarily for health care workers. “We asked for masks to give to people living outside or hurting otherwise,” Mr. Solomon said. “We even found an herbalist to make hand sanitizer, crucial for those without running water.”
Many people who suffer from addiction experience homelessness. And those who are homeless, Mr. Solomon pointed out, may have underlying health conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, that make them particularly susceptible to Covid-19. Not to mention that the shelters, which can be packed, were not designed with social distancing in mind.
Ms. Kay said she and the other outreach workers are also providing information to a population who may be unaware of the latest public health directives. Weeks after the stay-at-home order was issued, she said, “I talked to people who didn’t know.”
Both she and Mr. Solomon noted how West Virginia is often called “resilient.” “And we’re called strong,” he said. “But those are just code words for ‘nobody has our back.’ So we have to have our own.”
Most mornings, Carrie McCaleb, a kindergarten teacher in Port Angeles, Wash., still gets dressed for school, but her classroom, for now, is her home: a fifth-wheel trailer parked in one of the more beautiful parts of the country, just outside of Olympic National Park.
“It makes for an interesting work space,” Ms. McCaleb said. Weather permitting, she sets up a table on a level patch of grass and spreads out her work materials. Using her phone as a hotspot, she may attend a staff video call on her laptop. Then she’ll log onto ClassDojo, an educational platform, to begin checking in with her students and their parents.
She attended Dry Creek, the elementary school where she works, and lives eight minutes away by car, on a horse farm owned by her mother, who is also a teacher.
Before the pandemic, she liked to be in her classroom by 6 a.m. to square away her teaching prep and lesson planning. After school, she might have gone to the gym for a long weight lifting session, or taken a hike; on weekends she’d explore more of the outdoors. On an average weekday, minus time sleeping, she guessed she spent an hour at home.
Now, Ms. McCaleb, 36, is lucky to spend an hour away from it. “It’s the weirdest draining workday,” she said. She’s been able to check in with all of her students, though many of them, like her, don’t have the sort of fast, unlimited internet access needed for videoconferencing.
Last week, she said, was the hardest, knowing that there were at least eight more like it ahead. “You’re trudging forward into darkness,” she said.
She occasionally gets glimpses of life before. Twice this week, she drove to Dry Creek to work from her car in the school parking lot. It’s the easiest place for her to upload the videos she records for her students: roll call, word lessons, book readings.
The local library offers free Wi-Fi, turning its parking lot into an ad hoc office during the day, but it’s not as speedy as the school’s. Sometimes she sees other colleagues working in their cars; depending on the time of day, families may be queuing up to pick up meals.
For a while now, teachers at the school have had the option, with the principal’s permission, and with careful distancing, to enter their classrooms alone. Ms. McCaleb has done so just twice: once to get school supplies ready for delivery to children at home and once to gather her own materials. “Being in a classroom without my kindergartners in there is overwhelming still,” she said. The times she re-entered, “it was pretty emotional,” she said, “realizing you’re not going to hear their laughter anymore.”
‘I try not to get too close
but having dogs
kind of makes you
interact with people.’
The Dog Walkers
For the millions of Americans who own dogs, regular walks are one of the few parts of life untouched by the coronavirus. For Kara Welstead, who lives in a dog-filled condo building in downtown Atlanta (where I also live), taking her 12-year-old Boston terrier and 5-year-old Chihuahua mix outside allows her to stay in touch with people she may not see otherwise.
“I walk them three times a day,” Ms. Welstead, 54, said. “I try not to get too close but having dogs kind of makes you interact with people.”
She’s been sheltering in place since mid-March but has still been able to see neighbors like Gretchen and Billy Watts when the two are walking their dogs, a 1-year-old Great Pyrenees and a 12-year-old Lab-shepherd mix.
“I think it’s nice when you have your dogs together and you can be socially connected and talk to someone and not feel awkward because you’re worried about the virus,” Mrs. Watts said.
Still, the current climate doesn’t come without its anxieties. An advisory issued last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people extend social distancing measures to their pets.
Ms. Welstead, an aesthetician, said it’s not uncommon for strangers to approach her wanting to pet her dogs. Early last month, she and Mrs. Watts were walking their dogs to a nearby park when a man came running up.
“He was behind us and obviously wanted to talk about the dogs,” Ms. Welstead said. “I said ‘Look, buddy. I don’t know you, and I’m trying to social distance.’ I felt bad, but I was trying to be responsible.”
It turns out that she had reason to be cautious. The very next day she started feeling ill, with minor aches. Soon she was having trouble breathing. A visit to the doctor a few days later confirmed that she was fighting Covid-19.
The Wattses helped by taking her dogs for walks.
“Billy and Gretchen were so great,” she said. “They’d just come to the door and take the dogs out for me, then bring them back.”
Eventually, Ms. Welstead got so sick that she had to completely isolate herself and board her dogs. “It was so weird not having them here for 10 days,” she said.
She is on the mend now with only a cough and the occasional shortness of breath, and her dogs are back home.
Ms. Welstead is self-quarantining just to be safe; she wears a mask in public, and avoids her building’s elevator. “I don’t want to be too close to anyone just yet,” she said.
—Donovan X. Ramsey
There is perhaps no outdoor pastime better suited to isolation than early-spring fly fishing on Montana’s thousands of miles of rivers and streams. The waters these days are often high and muddy, and it’s frequently too cold for fish to rise, but that hasn’t stopped people.
Old-timers will tell you the sport itself is built around solace and done best alone. The last thing you want when fly fishing is another person right next to you, trying to fish the same hole.
Keeping space is rarely an issue, said Craig Fellin, 73, who opened the Big Hole Lodge in Wise River in 1984. His preferred distance from others while fly fishing? Half a mile. He’s not kidding.
Of course there are moments where people meet, at boat ramps and passing as they float down the water, stopping to chat about the weather and the bug hatch. It’s not an antisocial sport, but it is far removed from the daily news churn, distant and focused on the task at hand.
Mr. Fellin prefers to wade in the water rather than fish from a boat, so he can take his time, read the fish and see what they may be feeding on.
“I like to feel the current against my legs, and I like to study the water and figure out where I think the fish are and try to match the hatch,” he said. “I like to get my insect net out and catch some of those little guys and try to imitate them.”
“When you catch one that way, it gives you a little more satisfaction of what you’re doing and makes the whole day.”
Fishing is such a part of the culture in Montana, the state’s wildlife agency released social “fishtancing” guidelines early on in the crisis, measured in some of the most recognizable species.
Six feet in this state equals four trout, two shovelnose sturgeon, one paddlefish or a fishing rod.
The governor of Montana recently announced plans to lift stay-at-home orders and gradually reopen businesses, but there’s no date on when he may cancel a mandatory 14-day quarantine on out-of-state visitors, who make up a large part of Mr. Fellin’s business.
Still, Mr. Fellin described a perfect outing this week with his son and future daughter-in-law. Nobody caught a fish.
Dawn Brown hunched over her walkway and sketched the boundary lines with a piece of orange chalk.
Six feet apart, the lines complemented the cones lining the footpath. The multicolored markers led from the curb above East 57th Street in Savannah, Ga., to the BowTie Barbecue Co. food truck parked in her driveway.
Since March 23, Ms. Brown, a fourth-grade teacher, has hosted food trucks 13 times, she said a half-hour later, flipping through a calendar inside her home.
“Six different trucks now,” said Ms. Brown, 48. “I’m getting better at it every time I do it.” She’s learned to host a truck once every four days — to give neighbors time to use up their groceries and tire of cooking — and to allow a couple of weeks before inviting the same truck back, because people need variety.
Outside, Grayson Lowenthal, of BowTie, sat on a bar stool in the shade of the truck. Masked, he wielded an iPad, taking orders from customers, some holding plants.
Across the street, pots of elephant ears, crinum lilies and Lucifer’s Tongue lined the curb in front of Stephanie Hendrick’s home. A paper sign taped to the bed of a truck directed questions to her and Ms. Brown.
“We were brainstorming and we’re like, ‘What if we do a plant swap, and maybe that’ll bring more people here,’” Ms. Hendrick said. “And they’ll be like, ‘Well, I’m already here, I don’t want to cook tonight,’ because who isn’t sick of cooking?”
“Get a plant and a sandwich,” said Ms. Hendrick, 37, a restaurant manager. “And then you go home, and you’ve got a project for the next day.”
By 5:15 p.m., the shadow of the tall palm in Ms. Brown’s yard stretched farther to the east. The wind had picked up, occasionally scattering the cones near the food truck. In less than 24 hours, Georgia restaurants would be allowed to host eat-in customers, part of Gov. Brian Kemp’s push to reopen the state’s economy — a decision that worries local leaders like Van Johnson, the mayor of Savannah.
Mr. Lowenthal, 24, who grew up bottling barbecue sauce, said he’d done about $500 worth of sales. During the past month, he’d taken the food truck wherever he could, up the road to Pooler, out to Whitemarsh Island, over to Isle of Hope.
The truck, he said, is a “game changer”: promoting social distancing while helping keep the business afloat.
It was his third time in Ms. Brown’s driveway. “I love this spot,” he said.
An ‘act of social solidarity’
on darkened streets.
millburn, New Jersey
The Porch Lights
On April 3 Millburn, N.J., reported its first known coronavirus-related death, a person the township described as “a resident in their 80s.”
That day was also the start of an initiative to help move the town away from its lockdown gloom: “Light Up the Night.” In a letter to the community, Mayor Jackie Benjamin Lieberberg urged residents to turn on their front porch lights, shine a flashlight or illuminate whatever is at their disposal. “It will be an act of social solidarity,” she wrote.
Whether the solidarity she was encouraging caught fire was hard to determine on a recent Friday night. Many of the township’s majestic colonials and historic Tudors were lit, beacon-like, from top to bottom, but that may have been their everyday lighting. Other houses stood dark on streets hushed by quarantine. A pair of dog walkers hadn’t heard of the initiative, but said they liked the idea.
On winding Meadowbrook Road and several other streets in the township’s affluent Short Hills section, a few attempts to Light Up the Night seemed obvious. One stately home set a single lit candle in its picture window; at another, fairy lights twinkled through two front-yard trees.
Near Elmwood Place, a triple strand of white Christmas lights hung above a front door. Around the corner, one home shined an up light on an American flag, while another set a slender lit lamp in an upstairs window.
Downtown, along the once bustling and now desolate Millburn Avenue, restaurant and shop lights hinted at dinners and outfits to look forward to once the public health threat subsides and restrictions are eased.
Landscape lighting at nearby residences illuminated rainbow lawn signs thanking health care and other essential workers. A marquee outside Millburn High School that might normally display prom reminders at this time of year had been repurposed. “Keep calm, keep cool, keep collected,” it read.
—Tammy La Gorce