Some friends from my youth had planned to come over on March 20 for a mini-reunion party. We had scheduled it months in advance, since social time with old friends can be hard to find between working and parenting. I dubbed our gathering the “Spring Fling” and bought plenty of party favors in anticipation. I had planned to make floral crowns and headdresses for the occasion, eternally grateful for the skills I learned at a workshop offered by Judi Henderson-Townsend of Mannequin Madness in Oakland.
But the week prior to our gathering, rumors swirled that Bay Area officials were about to lockdown the region to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Then on March 16, the order was announced to shelter-in-place and socially distance. Our plans were cancelled and we readjusted to the unfolding public health crisis.
During lockdown, I adapted to video calls with friends over the web. Slowly, then all at once, March became April. Armed with a glue gun and headband, I repurposed some paper straws, gold mesh, and dried flowers to make an Easter bonnet of sorts. I found an old plastic ventilator mask, painted it, and dressed it up in flowers to match. I worked on these projects during video calls, sometimes asking friends and their children for creative input.
Wearing the crown and mask, I joked that they could refer to me as an alter ego, Ms. Rona Solstice. Imagining I’d parade the lake with them soon— six feet apart of course—on a warm, sunny day, like a whimsy-spreading superhero singing “here to save the day!”
My hope was to celebrate beauty like an anecdote against the ugliness that was coming for us. It was a small gesture to honor nature’s season of birth, while my loved ones and I did our best to avoid death.
Looking back now, as the number of COVID-19 reported deaths in the US approaches 150,000 people this summer, the spring flower-covered mask I crafted seems silly and offensive. I’m glad I never wore it out, opting for a somber, black fabric mask instead.