Britta Arendt

It’s what everyone is talking about. We have been for months. Our “new normal” with COVID-19.

I definitely do not want it to be our new normal, nor do I want it to be the new normal subject of my writing.

For the nearly 18 years that I’ve contributed to this page in the newspaper, I’ve written more than 200 columns - that’s more than 108,000 words (for you numbers people). I’ve written about my husband, my daughter, my son, my mother, my father, my sister and brother. I’ve written about heartache and happiness, love and loss, about pregnancy and pathways to new adventures. I’ve shared stories of my travels and times spent cooped up at home.

When we write these columns, we try to give readers a little glimpse into our personal lives - in hopes you can relate. It’s meant to be entertaining, light. A break from the hard-nosed, hard news on the front page. And in today’s world we need a lot more light.

Right now people are scared and confused, stressed and depressed. Believe me, those of us in the newspaper business hear it all and I understand because I feel it too. Just the other night, my husband put his foot down on no more talk about work.

So let’s discuss ice cream, flower boxes, hummingbirds, poetry (heck, anything other than the C-19 thing).

This summer, our family purchased an ice cream maker. It’s the kind you don’t have to crank. Just stir up the ingredients, set the timer and let it churn. The kids have had fun creating their own recipes and mixtures. I’ve enjoyed eating it all. Ever tried bubble-gum? I think that’s next.

I also bought a new, larger hummingbird feeder this spring. Our usual neighborhood gang of little guys have been hanging out, along with what seems like some new ones too. It’s fun to sit under the feeder and listen to the tiny airport as they buzz in for a landing.

It’s been a great couple of months for my flower boxes. A Mother’s Day gift from my husband a few years back, the boxes typically adorn our windows with color every summer. This year, however, we’re in the middle of a home construction project and the boxes are temporarily removed. They decorate my back deck instead and have been thriving in this location. Once our project is complete, I may have to ask (politely) for a few more.

These days when my son finds it difficult to fall asleep at a reasonable time - after hours of screen time that can muddle your mind - we turn to the classics. We have a section of our bookshelf with all our favorites. One of the best for some chuckles and nonsense is “Outside the Box,” a book of poems by Karma Wilson. Here’s a taste that will hopefully make you smile. The poem is titled:

“Inside, Outside, Upside Down”

My brother wore his coat to town

Inside, outside, upside down!

Why he put it on that way

I really, truly couldn’t say.

He said that’s how it fits him best,

With the waist way up there by his chest.

And so he wore his coat to town

Inside, outside, upside down.

(My brother makes my mother frown.)

My brother walked down every street on his hands and not his feet!

I don’t think he should walk like that.

It makes it hard to wear a hat.

He said his hands are made to hike

(and you know what my brother’s like).

And so he wore his coat to town

Inside, outside, upside down,

And walked around on every street

On his hands and not his feet.

(Mother says it’s not discreet.)

My brother sat to rest a bit,

But you should see my brother sit.

How he takes a seat, oh dear,

On his head and not his rear!

He said that behinds don’t sit best,

And heads are better made to rest.

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