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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: A Different Kind Of Spring

Tommy Tomlinson

One of the many, many strange things about Virus Time is that it’s happening just as spring comes to town.

The official beginning of spring is still a few days off, but it’s here. In our yard the daffodils are still going strong and the azaleas are starting to peek out of their buds. One street over, in the median of The Plaza, thousands of tulips have burst out of their bulbs with flowers so intense that the color looks oversaturated.

But none of it is quite right. It’s hard to linger on all the beautiful sights when we’re all so focused on the thing that’s invisible.

There are four of us in our house. There’s me and my wife, Alix Felsing. There’s Alix’s mom, Joann, who is staying with us while she heals after taking a fall a few weeks ago. And there’s the cat, Jack Reacher, named after the hero of the Lee Child thrillers. The Jack Reacher in the books is a force for good. Not so sure about the one in our house.

We’ve been washing our hands and staying home. We all feel healthy. But we don’t live in a bubble. We’re in a house, on a street, in a neighborhood, in a city. All we can do is our best.

Last night, after supper, I sat on the front porch. If anything, it felt like there were more people out than usual. Two young women holding beers came down the street on in-line skates. A little boy sped down the sidewalk on a bike with training wheels. Scads of people walked their dogs. Couples came by holding hands.

But when people approached each other, one person would always swing out wide, 10 or 15 feet away. And when some friends saw me and came by to talk, they stopped halfway down our walkway. They didn’t come up on the porch. And I didn’t invite them.

I stayed out there long enough for the golden hour, that time photographers love, when the evening puts on a new dress and everything looks languid and glorious.

It was as beautiful as always, but somehow it had an ominous undertone. It was a change in a time of too many changes. And even a perfect spring day was something you might see in a different light.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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