The water is dripping from the roof and splashing into a stream alongside the house.

I pull the chair to face the sun on our deck as Thurston, our yellow and white cat, sniffs at the four soft yellow apples I’ve thrown in the back yard for the birds.

The crows are cawing overhead and littler birds chirping from the trees in a cacophony of sound as the water drips — thud, thud. Thud, thud, thud.

The sun is warm when it pops out from behind the clouds, but then the breeze rises intermittently, chilling my stocking feet.

It is an early Sunday afternoon in April and the warmth is not consistent. It comes and goes like the waves of the ocean, teasing, receding.

We Mainers know better than to expect a full week of sun just because it sure seems like spring on a day like this. We know that April can be torturous, with its sun one day and rain the next.

As I write this, my neighbors on the next street over are still without electricity after a heavy snowstorm three days ago that knocked out power to a quarter of the state’s population, battered trees and left branches littering lawns and streets.

We are used to such storms, even in spring, but this time it is more egregious because it comes during a worldwide pandemic where we are forced to stay in our homes and told that the next 10 days are no time to be going grocery shopping as the coronavirus is expected to hit its peak.

Shop only once a week, if that, we are told. Stay away from people.

As if that weren’t inconvenient enough, we are hit with the storm and then the power outage. Many of those who packed their freezers and refrigerators in preparation for the coronavirus surge have lost much of their food and must start over.

Nothing like hitting people when they’re down.

We’re being tested, it seems.

Restaurants are closed and trying to survive by selling meals-to-go, other businesses are shuttered and uncertain whether they’ll be able to reopen, kids are losing weeks of in-classroom learning, and family members are not able to visit each other.

I remember my mother describing  what it was like during the Great Depression, when everyone conserved food, sewed worn out clothes instead of buying new, and cut pieces of cardboard to place in their shoes when the soles wore through. My maternal grandmother saved scraps of everything when I was a child, right down to the leaves of celery stalks.

As I cook now, I’m reminded of their stories. As one who is generous with everything — tossing more butter than I typically need in a recipe, using a bit more dish washing soap than probably is warranted, and loading the molasses into a pot of beans — I am now more conservative.

In the grocery stores, eggs are not as plentiful, toilet paper is at a premium, and some canned goods scarce. While we are not in a depression, it sometimes seems so.

Our world is different, now and none of us knows whether we will ever return to a sense of normal.

But one thing is for certain: We rural Mainers are survivors. We’ve heard the stories of our forbears, we know that change is inevitable, and we’ve been taught to make do with what we have — without complaining.

We are stubborn, determined and resourceful. And we face adversity with fortitude.

Not a bad recipe for persevering in a pandemic — and a pretty good antidote for surviving it.


Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 32 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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