Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has done plenty of dumb things during the COVID crisis, but one thing he got right. On March 23, when he was posting his “stay home” order to Twitter, he added an all-important caveat.
“You can still go outside. Take a walk. Ride a bike. Garden.” — take that, Gretchen Whitmer! — “But you must remain six feet away from everyone at all times,” Inslee wrote. He wanted us to shut down and spread out, but not be shut-ins.
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It was a significant signal for his constituents and especially for the state government to chill out. Police here didn’t try to do crazy things like try to run down a guy who was running alone on a beach or bring out the armada to arrest a paddleboarder in the ocean, as happened in California.
Here in my small town of Lynden, people responded by lacing up their shoes. They started walking, running, and hiking in great numbers. Some folks even started up bicycle gangs and used them to do drive-by birthday celebrations for people who can’t invite everyone over.
On Sunday night, I sat on the couch in the front room for several hours with a sore tummy. We do not live in a large neighborhood. It is bounded on two sides by farms and is off to the side of almost everything. And yet I saw dozens, if not hundreds, of people walking by outside our bay windows.
My fellow Lyndeners walked alone. They came in pairs. They walked in small groups. They walked the dog. They enjoyed the sun and the fresh air on day before what was forecasted, accurately, to be a gray and rainy Memorial Day. The spectacle was almost like watching a small army marching around with no war to go off and fight.
On most days of the week, the wife and yours truly — with dog on leash and child on wheels — have joined this army of energetic loafers. It’s given us some exercise, something to do, and a connection to others in this time of social distancing. If you’re not getting out there and feeling the pandemic pressure, perhaps gird up thy shoelaces and go for it.
Jeremy Lott walks this way.
Editor’s Note: How are you spending your time during the coronavirus shutdown? Please send contributions of 250–400 words to firstname.lastname@example.org.