Another in a series of stories on how Malden residents are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Elizabeth Scorsello
Malden artist, Peg, dreamed about spending a week in May in Turin, Northern Italy, at the International Center for Ceramics to mark the year of turning 80. She had planned to take classes with potters from all over the world. Now, she wonders when – or if – she will ever get to make this trip.
Peg, a resident of Malden for 14 years, paints and draws, does ceramics and teaches art. She taught kindergarten in the Boston School System. Retired and living in senior housing, she was teaching ceramics. And then the coronavirus appeared.
“About a month ago the management (of senior housing) tried to get on top of it,” Peg told Neighborhood View. “We received a mailing describing the virus and (tell us to start) washing hands, etc., to get ready for the coronavirus.”
Two weeks ago a notice went up and a robo call started telling residents no visitors allowed except for family care takers, health aids, and assistants. Soon after, big red signs were posted on the front door. Purell dispensers were tacked to walls, and the furniture removed from the common room. There is no one in the office any more. The maintenance person remains but is not allowed into apartments. “It’s eerie,” Peg said. “Occasionally I see people and we try to keep our distance.”
“It’s scary. I don’t think about age. It’s the asthma that is the issue,” she said. “How once ailments that one lived with everyday have now become threats to one’s life.” She talks about others in the housing where she lives. “It makes me more aware of how many people are dealing with health issues, some of them really compromised. One woman is on dialysis and is still upbeat.”
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Peg would participate in group exercises. When social distancing she began, instead, to walk every day to Fellsmere Pond. “It makes me move my body. My back aches not as much. It takes me out of a lot of chaos and fear. I’m much more observant, pay much more attention to what is around me. Then, I feel better. The fresh air clears my head.”
Using her iPad, she took photographs of trees around the pond and along the rolling green hills of the park behind. She enjoys the winding path along the banks and the many different kinds of trees. She later draws those nature scenes at home.
“But recently people have been congregating at the pond and last time I went, about 30 or more people were streaming into the park,” she said. When she walked on the road, joggers and young people, those who she refers to as “youngins,” would not distance themselves from her. So, she changed her route to feel safer.
“Too many people are not thinking beyond their own desires and wants. Not heeding what is going to get us out of this. All of your actions have consequences. All the people not distancing are passing it on.”
Nature continues to soothe and inspire her. Her work has always featured vividly colored flowers and plants and she is drawing more. “Watching red cardinals flying from one bush to another, forsythias from tiny little buds to blossoms, watching the changing white and pink cherry blossoms. Just watching nature.”
Her pencil drawings of trees around Fellsmere Pond are now more subdued, capturing the grey days and somber times.
“I keep thinking, the world is crashing all around us but it is still blooming,” she said. “ Spring is springing. In spite of too many people not doing what they are supposed to be doing, nature is doing its thing.”
Peg requested that her last name not be used for this story.