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World Enough and Time: A bit of mostly good news

Bill Hagen
Contributing writer

Believe it or not, there is good news during these uncertain days of First Wave COVID-19.

After a relatively mild winter, beekeepers report only a 22% loss of colonies, down from almost 29% loss the previous year. So far, no politician is claiming credit for this improvement.

I try to do my part in encouraging the honeybees by not mowing my lawn. I have a multi-culture lawn with patches of clover. I like to let the clover flower and let the flowers stand so the bees can get at them.

Flowers awaiting pollinators

Okay, my front lawn looks patchy and ragged compared to many neighbors’ uniformly green single culture lawns. I don’t use herbicides or pesticides because I like to see birds feasting on the insects and bees humming from flower to flower.

Reminds me that the feeders and birdbath in the backyard often afford unexpected enjoyment. I’ve already mentioned the two cats who visit daily, possibly hoping for a feathered feast. Never seen either one so much as spring at a bird. They lie in the grass for awhile, sip some water from the birdbath, and walk off. One of them meows a bit, complaining as he leaves.

Red tailed hawk in bird bath.

As luck would have it, a young Redtail Hawk decided to sip and bathe the other day. He would have flown off before I activated my camera, except for the fact that he was being harassed by two Blue Jays. This was their bath and he had no business being there. So they swooped on him. He got a determined look in his eye and—I know, hawks always look determined--, but, I swear, he was more so. He stayed in that birdbath for at least five minutes, splashing vigorously, just to show the annoying dive bombers, he would not be moved. When he was ready to go, he paused on the lip of the birdbath, not to be hurried, and slowly flew off.

For all their frantic efforts to get him to leave, the Jays didn’t come down for a celebratory drink or a dip. They just wanted him gone.

Determined hawk in the bird bath

On the human scale, to wear (a mask in public places) or not to wear has become a question. It’s a shame that this is political for some. I mean the facts are certain: Droplets from an infected person’s mouth, coughing or just speaking, can spread the virus.

It becomes a moral question: Do you care about other people? Even if you don’t have the symptoms, you may carry the virus.

I don’t even ask you to love your neighbor as much as yourself. Just, do you have any care for your neighbor? Wear a mask.

Your freedom to talk, yell or cough in public should end just where my nose begins.

I wrote a letter to the editor complimenting Homeland and criticizing Braum’s for their very different policies. But, in an effort to “accentuate the positive,” I also posted an inquiry on the Nextdoor Neighbor chat site, asking for the names of restaurants that did have a policy of masking their servers and food preparers. Someone added preparers should be wearing gloves too. (Though you can’t always see the preparers.)

It was reassuring to find out that most of the chain eateries require employees to wear masks. Several of the local restaurants do, as well, though some longtime Shawnee restaurants were not mentioned.

Most of those who responded to my inquiry want to patronize restaurants that care about their customers. Of course, the behavior of customers matters too.

One respondent was discouraged when she visited a chain that masks: “A lobby full of unmasked customers not social distancing sent us back out the door.”

Speaking of caring, I applaud Emmanuel Episcopal Church for continuing its daily take-out lunch program throughout the pandemic, at a time when many churches had to quit offering meals indoors. Those of us at United Presbyterian were impressed enough to want to provide support for the program by opening lines of credit at three local restaurants, so that lunches could be prepared and donated to Emmanuel, as needed.

Typically, churches mount their own programs if they have the means, available volunteers and the facilities. In the case of UPC, we had the means, but lacked the facilities to do much, beyond putting out bottled water during the hottest months of the year.

One could hope that churches—even churches of different denominations—could find ways to sustain each other’s attempts to provide the necessities of life for those in need. There are quite a few folks in that category in Shawnee.

For those of us who are staying in-house much of the time, the Pioneer Library System’s digital collection of books is a Godsent. If you have a Kindle or iPad or a regular computer, you can go to the Pioneer website, log-in with your library card number and PIN (last four numbers of phone) and then search by author, title or type of book, limiting your search to the digital collection. As with the regular collection, some will be checked out and some will be available. You can put a “Hold” on any that are checked out and be notified by email when they are available.

If you want even more digital choices, join the Metropolitan (OKC) system. It’s allowed. However, unless the policy has changed, you have to go to one of their branches to get a card. I think the nearest one is in Choctaw.

I confess I have checked out a number of escapist titles by C. J. Box, Peter May, and Lee Child that way. It’s always reassuring to read baffling mysteries and dangerous thrillers that are resolved at the end. Would that life were that conclusive.

From bees to birds to masks, food aid and digital books, a bit of mostly good news.

Bill Hagen is a retired OBU professor. He lives in Shawnee with his cat. Contact him at