Waves over the rocks at Clarke Square Photo by Mary De Jong

It’s March 23, the 83rd day of the year and, despite yesterday’s snow, the third full day of spring. Yesterday the temperature of Lake Michigan was 42 degrees at the Chicago shore and 40 degrees at the Chicago crib.

On this day in 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare.

It’s Day Something of the coronavirus scare here in Evanston. Most people who are out and about seem to be taking social distancing seriously. Those who don’t, should. Over the weekend, Mary De Jong, taking a proper walk, took these photos of Clark Square and Lee Street Beach.

When does the scare/panic/emergency date from? The RoundTable began covering the virus on Feb. 29, but even before that, the public schools were taking note of the potential problem. Still, I nominate Friday the Thirteenth. On March 12, five of us had a lively conversation at a local coffee shop and two then went off to buy groceries. By the next day, things were cascading.

Remember stopping to talk with friends while shopping or taking a walk? Kids playing in parks? Carpooling? High school sports – or even high school classes? People in the office? Food and staples in grocery stores? Elbow-bumping as the necessary social distancing?

So, let’s have a cup of coffee.

One of our friends emailed that notion to us last week. He and his wife and their children and grandchildren live in Barrow, Alaska – where her family has lived for some 6,000 years. We see them every five or six years but otherwise keep up by phone, letters and email.

So, we took a half hour and the four of us just talked, about family and politics and climate and coping. Her comment, “We are accepting,” seemed to crystalize a way to consider the world’s rapid backspin.

Distance seems irrelevant now. Like many of you, we are keeping in touch however we can.

Brew some coffee; steep some tea; or just breathe deeply and call a friend when you both have time for a chat. Soon there will be a word for this – telecoffee, phonaklatch? voiceovers?

It’s a good way to keep up and slow down.

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...