Make Cancellation Plans

Find Creative Ways to Weather the Coronavirus 'Storm'

Pamela Smith
By  Pamela Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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The future looks a little foggy -- even for dogs right now. But there are things you can do to relieve the tension. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- My dog is depressed.

Lucy, the amazing golden retriever that shares my world, is generally a smile waiting to happen. She's a registered therapy animal and has a dance card with a waiting list that would make a beauty queen jealous.

Her world has changed over the past few weeks. We are not making visits to nursing homes and schools. We are not even taking our regular trips to Farm and Fleet to purchase dog treats -- not because she's a carrier or at risk for the most recent coronavirus, known as COVID-19 -- but because it is important that we are team players and stay home.

The recent closures to stop community spread of COVID-19 has caused some interesting reactions. I'm not here to judge because there are many situations and we all have our own thresholds.

I know a woman who is unable to visit her spouse in a nursing home. Yesterday, a man in the grocery checkout line asked me to pray for him, as he wasn't sure he'd survive the breaking of an eight-year streak attending St. Louis Cardinal baseball opening day. Another friend confessed to being slightly nervous about working from home, as he and his wife haven't spent this much time together since their honeymoon. However, the high school and colleges have now shut down, so the kids are coming home -- killing that moment.

There are concerns about how to keep a job rolling without adequate daycare. Who will feed children that get most of their nutrition while attending school? My own father oversees a senior citizen center, which will now carry meals to seniors, but have no social activities available -- which is important to many rural elderly.

The snowballing of missed opportunities and income is mind-boggling really. It has opened all our eyes to how much we rely, or crave, various services.

Think about it: Where will all those NCAA championship T-shirts be sold?

Some of us are old enough to remember when life wasn't quite so fluid. In fact, growing up on the farm, we seldom roamed far from our little place on earth. School, church and the monthly 4-H meeting were a big deal. We lived for summer and the county fair.

Instead, we visited nearby neighbors and hung out with grandparents when we needed company. We took hikes in the woods, played in the hay mow and rode horses or dirt bikes. When nighttime fell, there was one television and three television channels to share among the family -- gulp.

At the risk of sounding old, I started to wonder how to suggest to our children, grandchildren and others to endure this current round of sequestering based on what I remember.

First, it seems wise to consider what has changed and be thankful that we aren't truly isolated. Today, we almost all have a personal telephone instead of a party line. We almost all have unlimited minutes and media packages. There's texting, Facetime, Twitter, Facebook and all sorts of other direct or instant messaging and social media platforms.

While all this technology connects us, we also know it is no substitute for gathering when it comes to fighting loneliness and loss. The real challenge of this particular pandemic is that we can't just invite friends over or turn to escape in some of our favorite ways -- i.e., basketball, hockey, baseball, NASCAR, musical concerts, plays and Cirque du Soleil.

Farmers will soon be isolated for long hours in the cab, but in the meantime, here are some ideas to consider during this period of cancellations:

-- Check on elderly neighbors and ask how you can help. Elderly are most at risk from this virus. It is possible to drop care packages or supplies at their door without having an encounter.

-- Eating out is still in. Take-out tactics exist. If you don't want to eat in a restaurant, call and ask if you can carry out. Some local restaurants are offering to bring carryout orders to your car.

-- Don't forget about local suppliers and businesses. It's easy to online order, but we need to support local firms if we want them to survive.

-- Beach trip cancelled? Lay in a supply of sand and build your castle.

-- Candlelight is nice and doesn't require a power outage. Cook a favorite meal together and light up.

-- Mad about March Madness? Find the basketball and shoot some hoops. Start your own family brackets or just play HORSE.

-- Sad about spring training? Initiate a pickup game in the backyard.

-- Vacation vacated? Find a globe and take a virtual spin around the world.

-- Take a long drive to explore.

-- Read a book.

-- Start a new hobby. Paint-by-number is making a comeback.

-- Start a diary about this experience.

-- Ride your bicycle.

-- Start stargazing.

Mostly, we help others by seeing ourselves as a part of something bigger. Attitude is everything. Be joyful if you are healthy and kind to those who are compromised.

If all else fails, take a long walk with a good dog.

Let us know if you and your family find creative ways to cope during this current fog of uncertainty.

Pamela Smith can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN


Pamela Smith

Pamela Smith
Connect with Pamela: