Something Stinks Here

There are the photo opportunities that you frustratingly miss, those you purposely pass on, and the ones you use for illustration—even when they’re make-do. That’s the context for our Featured Image, shot today using iPhone XS. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 69, 1/1689 sec, 26mm (film equivalent); 10:05 a.m. PDT. Now comes some explanation.

In response to the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic, federal and state officials have issued orders for citizens to “shelter in place“. Most businesses considered to be non-essential are closed; schools are, too. Staying home is fine most of the time, but some healthy outdoor activity is nevertheless necessary for the Wilcox family’s well-being. Turns out that walks are considered to be safe enough—and my wife and I continue to take them, mindful to try and keep the recommended six feet away from passersby (mostly dog walkers). At 8:50 a.m. PDT, we met someone, or I should say something, that we surely wanted to keep distance from: A skunk scurrying down the Meade Ave. sidewalk approaching us.

The fantastic photographic moment passed before I could react. Annie saw the critter first, and I didn’t want to move too quickly pulling out the XS for a quick shot. Who wants to get sprayed? Not me! Problem: I wore my winterish jacket (at least for San Diego), which is long—draping down my thighs past my jeans pockets. Too quickly, the skunk scampered towards us, then turned onto a driveway, and disappeared into foliage. My guess, about the odd daytime sighting: Either the stinker is someone’s pet, or mommy trotted back to her little ones—non-threatening humans be damned.

Obviously, the sidewalk skunk would have made a great moment and grand accompanying story. That one got away. But I chose to pass on another photo opportunity, two days earlier, when Annie and I came upon a sad, strange sight at the entrance to an alley: Two sparrows that recently, perhaps moments earlier, had been crushed by a vehicle; they lay side by side. My suspicion: Distracted while eating, the birds didn’t hear an approaching electric car turning from the street. This type of automobile makes too little noise, and it’s common enough for one to sneak up on me—mainly when walking along an alley.

That brings me to the image that illustrates this post and expands the context with respect to the pandemic. Before businesses started closing, in response to “stay-at-home” edicts, road crews worked on building traffic circle(s)—among several forthcoming “traffic calming measures”, according to project coordinators—along Meade. The pictured (presumably temporarily) abandoned construction site is at Alabama; others incomplete are located at Hamilton and Louisiana. All are part of a planned bike lane renovation running along Meade from Hillcrest, through University Heights, into North Park.

Has work stopped because of recent rains, or (as I suspect) has it stalled because of bureaucratic bungling related to SARS-CoV-2? I dunno, but a few forthcoming days of sun should answer the question. Asking makes me wonder about the many building projects underway in my community and others across the nation. Will they falter?

For example, in the photo, on the horizon, at Georgia, is a partly-built, multi-unit dwelling. Will the sudden, contagion-created recession lead to construction slowdown or stoppage? A buyer paid $1 million for a cute Craftsman on that double lot, for the privilege of leveling the structure to put up another. Somebody borrowed big bucks (presumably). Can they complete the building, and will there be anyone around to rent (or to buy) units—given economic pandemic raging alongside the viral one? I dunno.

My missed skunk shot pales before lost opportunities that the Novel Coronavirus takes from us all. Maybe, but I’ll be out looking for that stinker every day.