From the Editor

The last time we put out a Home & Garden issue of Martha’s Vineyard magazine, the world had not yet changed. Or rather, it had changed but we didn’t realize the extent of it yet. That was in February of 2020, and the Covid-19 outbreak had started a couple of months before in a city in China that is larger than New York but of which few Americans had even heard. The disease was already in the United States – the first death here is now thought to have been on February 6 – but it was barely on our minds. The conversation was more often about whether the Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders would win the Democratic nomination to run against Donald Trump or whether the billionaire former Republican Mike Bloomberg would be able to buy it for himself. That lineup alone suggests normalcy in America was already pretty threadbare, but in a matter of weeks it was gone altogether.

Barely seven months later, some 200,000 and counting Americans have died, more than all of the American fatalities in forty-plus combined years of combat in the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars. Millions more have lost their jobs, their savings, their businesses. Their primary, which is to say their only, homes. Their memories of graduations and matriculations, visits with grandparents, and rides on the Ferris wheel at their local fair. I loved someone who died in a nursing home not long ago, not from Covid, the nurses said, but because of it nonetheless. She couldn’t see her many, many friends, they told me, and in their opinion that was fatal to her will to go on living.

The dead will not come back to see if and how we will have changed when this too has passed, which is fortunate for the dead, I suppose. Because the real danger, it seems to me, is that we will not change enough, or quickly enough. And I don’t mean politically, though there are many here among us who feel that America easily could have done a better job at almost every turn of the path. Many who believe that in something called “normal” times we surely would have done so.

But let’s not shout “boo hoo the aberration!” too loudly from the rooftops. After all, normalcy for most of the citizens of the world is more a part of the problem than the solution. Normalcy is a kind of code for what got us to where we are. This is true whether we are in our own nice and normal home on the Vineyard or are on our knees cleaning someone else’s third or fourth home. Or, for that matter, are on the pavement with someone else’s knee on our neck.

I was going to use this space to talk about how Covid, for all its catastrophic costs, has changed the way we look at our homes and gardens. How they became true shelters from the storm. How it brought us back to a simpler relationship with friends and neighbors. How we bought groceries for one another. How we were, in the end, more than happy to have traded the endless stream of summer events and parties for intimate BYO appetizers and drinks on the lawn or porch.

And indeed Covid has done all that. For which I am thankful. Though not quite as thankful as I am for the simpler fact that I am one of those who has a home and a garden in which to be thankful. And, it should be added, a vote to cast that hopefully will be counted.

Comments (1)

West Tisbury
October 10, 2020 - 12:25pm