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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 Touch Of Country In The City

Tommy Tomlinson

It struck me this morning, as I was hearing the birds, that most of us in the city are now living country lives.

We could always hear some birds here. But now the white noise of traffic from Independence Boulevard is gone, and the bluebirds and robins are higher in the mix. Their medley carries from before the sun to after dark. And then the owls work the night shift.

We city people don’t go to bars or coffee shops now. The only trips we take are the same ones they take out in the country. We go to pick up groceries or drop off mail. I had to go to the post office in the afternoon, and on the way back I drove a loop through uptown. A few of our homeless residents were still on the street, but otherwise it was just construction workers and joggers.

You can still get takeout, but most everybody is cooking at home. And like in the country, when you’re out of some ingredient, you don’t just dash to the store. You make do with what you’ve got. Parsley is mostly for show anyway.

Life is slower for most of us. That doesn’t mean rural life is less work. Anybody on a farm works more in a day than most of us do in a month. But the city days have elongated to feel more like country days. For most of us, there’s no commute to worry about. Parents don’t have to ferry their kids from softball practice to debate team to ballet lessons. Nobody has any work trips. A friend who travels constantly for his job texted me the other day: “It’s not the worst thing, being forced to stay home and spend time with your family, you know?”

The other day, the cat came into the office my wife and I share to see if there was anything he had forgotten to chew on or knock over. He settled on top of our printer, looking out the back window. All of a sudden he stiffened. I looked out and a squirrel was perched on our fence. The squirrel was oblivious. He squatted there and chewed on his lunch while we watched from a car length away. We must have sat there three or four minutes watching him until he trotted off across the top of the fence.

Squirrels perch on fences all the time in the city, of course. But we’re usually not there to see it. And if we are, we’re usually too busy to pay attention. But the virus has put us in a country way, at least for a little while. It’s one small thing to be grateful for.

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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Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.