Montana social distancing update

On Saturday, the first day of our shelter-in-place order, we hardly left our yard.  The day was blue and in the fifties, we oiled lawn furniture and laid a brick walk, and generally waited for our hearts to catch back up.  Yesterday, Little Bear and I ventured forth in the face of the warmest day thus far in 2020.


There were a lot of people out in the woods.  Far more than just the nicest weekend of the year, or the first where dries might catch something, would suggest.  On the way home we visited the grocery store, my first time in a number of weeks, and there too it was difficult to stay 6 feet away from others.


There were plenty of families out wheeling and casting, but a near majority were folks I struggled to believe all live in one house.  The profusion of 3 thirty something guys in a nice boat and one Kuiu item each suggested that for many, significant aspects of life were no different than last week.  I’ve been reading lots this week, trying to get a grasp on the future, something which has included some sharp criticism of American leadership and the American reaction to the corona crisis.  It is difficult to not think that our odd combination of individualism and sociability may well cause my country to struggle, to both follow directions and put the short term under the priority of the long term.  In the store I thought about this cliche, how the new ideal of personal space would suit me fine by default, and what lessons might be learned by months hence by comparing the American reaction to that of a country like Sweden.


6 responses to “Montana social distancing update”

  1. The number of mud and snow-free trailheads is small at this time of year. Pair that with cabin fever and a sunny weekend in the 50s and you get some really, really popular trailheads. Our family was really uncomfortable yesterday at the start of our bike ride with how packed the parking lots were.

  2. American individualism seems to becoming more of a curse than a boon in my eyes these days. Just the other day I nearly started (but didn’t) an argument on a popular backpacking manufacturer’s FB page as people voiced their supreme discontent with the closure of national parks and it being the same oppression as the gov’t coming for guns and such (literally the idea expressed). But I can’t help but feel these same people would be upset that others on the trail were putting them at risk. Or will be upset when the virus isn’t slowed.

    I guess I’m not sure we differentiate well be individualism and selfishness.

    And I don’t think America will learn many lessons. We’re a country of people who’s successes are their own, and who’s failures are because of someone else.

  3. Alaska has the same thing right now. We have a travel ban as well intrastate so it makes all the towns trailheads really crowded. It’s really hard to notice the difference other than traffic being slightly down and businesses being closed. Otherwise many areas are bustling and with people who definitely don’t appear to be under the same household. It’s the nicest part of winter up here and I imagine that makes it really hard for a lot of people to stay put after months of already being more homebound.

  4. Same issue in Finland — all normal venues for amusements are closed, so everyone ventures outdoors. At least here nobody is bitching about the government coming for the guns.

  5. I can’t make out what your thoughts on US vs Sweden were going. :)
    They are actually taking a somewhat different approach compared to the rest of Europe and the Nordic countries. I think they are making a gamble keeping the society more open, but is the disease or the medicine worse? As usual they probably make it out fine (just like Fin-Swe hockey games).

    In Finland we have closed the daycare and schools, some say this is not effective – but I fail to understand that reasoning, in my opinion and experience sickness spread like wildfire in those settings.
    The other side of the coin, something you might be interested in. Some joke there will be a baby boom, I would be more afraid of a divorce boom. Worse yet, child health as a consequence of stressed families and worse, for example alcohol abuse. I would guess we have a better than average situation and still it’s stressful. Quite similar to sharing a tent for a week. :) Then again, history actually tells that people were quite happy during for example the blitz, who knows…

    1. I think the concerns about family stress you mention are very legit. I’ve thought a lot the last few weeks about how I’m glad I both like and love my family. That said, when two days ago I thought we might have to do a real quarantine and not be able to get out into the woods I was scared about how well I’d manage.

      Sweden doing things differently came to my attention when they were the last place in Europe still turning ski lifts. The articles I’ve read suggest that the default obedience slash lack of pioneer obstreperousness will make less extensive directives workable in Sweden in a way they would not in the US. I have no idea how valid that might be, but given the prominence locally of headlines discussing how many ways US citizens are messing with social distancing orders gives one cause for reflection.

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