Coronavirus: A bird’s-eye view

On nearby houses and condos, dozens of balconies are in view. Usually, they are empty. Now, heads bob above the railings and the whoosh of traffic is replaced by the bird-like chattering of the voices of people



In our honeycombs of concrete and drywall, we lie low during this longest Passover. We live behind our doors, and no longer talk in the halls. The Angel of Death passes quietly over us. Not long ago, a neighbour was taken away on a stretcher.

I’m so grateful that I have someone, and that we get along. In the sunny afternoon, we chat on our balcony. On nearby houses and condos, dozens of balconies are in view. Usually, they are empty, while the streets hum. Now, heads bob above the railings and the whoosh of traffic is replaced by the bird-like chattering of the voices of people who are usually inside or working, or out in the city. All around, nested like mud swallows on cliff-sides, we chatter and titter.

This is the pinkest area of the city, according to an infection map where COVID-19 cases are indicated by ever-deepening shades of red. This Passover, all our lintels (world-wide, for those lucky enough to be housed) are smeared with whatever Blood of the Lamb was left on emptying supermarket shelves: Lysol, Fantastic, the dilutions of bleach or peroxide recommended on the Internet. Alas, some in my neighbourhood must be told not to drink it.

Just before bed, a neighbour calls me: “Pinkies, man, I got pinkies here! You got an eyedropper?” I do. A pinky is a newborn rodent. But it’s not rodents that his girlfriend found. These neighbours: lovers who alternate between calling the police on each other and, time and again, rescuing each other, are reconciled this month. And the girlfriend just found two baby rabbits in the flowerbed.

I lean the blister-pack of eyedroppers against his doorframe and step back. He places a cage in the doorway and steps back himself so I can come closer. Two grey and white kidney-shaped creatures, each the size of a chicken-egg, curl up together. I have little hope, but I tell him to keep them warm.

When I call later with info gleaned from the Internet, he reports they eagerly suckled their milk and are blindly exploring their new nest of towels. It turns out I don’t have to tell him that he should massage their groins to get them to excrete – he’s raised newborn kittens before. There’s more to this guy than meets the eye.

It turns out that baby rabbits are tough. They have no smell. Their safety depends on their fragrant mom visiting only a few times a day to nurse and wash them, then hopping away to find food and to decoy the bunny-loving predators. There are so many ways to be a mother, on this planet.

But mother-love always entails intimacy and distance: opening your body to nurture the new life and then stepping back to allow courage and character to grow. This is why the three lively kids and their loving mom across the hall shouted a lot today. It’s been four long weeks since their confinement began. But all is quiet by the time the Super Pink Moon, one day’s shave from the full moon and trailed by a chorus of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, draws a veil of spring drizzle over the City.

Because we are self-isolating in our homes, the dark wing of the Angel of Death touches down rarely for now. The morning after the first night of Passover, most of us are still here. And overnight, the spinach on my balcony burst through the soil. From the hallway, I hear kids laughing behind a door. My neighbour’s Easter rabbits made it through the night.

@nowtoronto

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