Update from Italy: Day 12 in the Florentine Quarantine

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Sometime around four a.m., when my stomach was broadcasting static noise waiting for the regular programming to begin, I wondered: what does the planet think? What do the plants and animals think? Where do they think the humans have gone?

The pandemic will re-green the planet. The plants and animals will slowly creep back and reestablish. (If you’re up on your scientific reports, we are in for at least twelve to eighteen months of this until the situation gets under control.) Cruise ships are docked. (Requisition them all as quarantine hotels, maybe salvage some of their global reputation and make themselves useful, for once). Airplanes are not flying – United alone has cut their service by 95% for April. Roads are empty. Interstate highways and autostrade are close to empty. As the humans shut down, the planet creeps back out.

China is slowing emerging from their three-month Corona waltz. Pollution has cleared. Not sure how long this will last, as subsequent outbreaks are anticipated in the prevailing model. The air is rapidly clearing over Los Angeles.

Our birds in Florence are in a near-constant concert. Under sunshine and blue skies, all the hoomans are inside. The Florence airport closed a week ago. A strange calm hangs in the air, and then you realize: it’s simply the absence of human activity. A click and a chirrup float up from the courtyard, four stories below.

It was said that Adriatic dolphins have begun swimming in the Lido of Venice, nudging up to the embankment where gondoliers normally tie their skiffs. This bit of news has been debunked multiple times, more poignant perhaps is how many hoomans wished it were true. There is a yearning to give back so much of the Earth’s space we have roughly claimed. Swans have always plied the canals of Burano; just outside Venice, and the dolphins have, in fact, returned to the harbor in Cagliari, at the southern tip of Sardegna.

It’s hard to say what dogs might make of all this. They’re getting outside a lot less if they are urban dwellers. Perhaps, like teenagers, they’re pissed off their parents are now home all day, barking orders at them. Or maybe the more codependent canines are relieved to finally have Dog Mom All To Themselves. I bet some dogs in Florence are being made to pee and poo on a patch of green plastic grass in a tight apartment, and are rebelling. Dog owners might be reconsidering their commitment to all-indoor dog culture. I suspect a few divans have been manged.

Cats don’t care. Never did. Fill up the bowl, hooman. Now go away.

The flora all collectively breathe a huge sigh of relief, now that they can keep up with oxygen demand. For once. Meet those target goals.

Maybe we’ll have a bumper population of insects, bees especially, this summer.

I would love to know what the non-human part of this planet think of all the hoomans holed up. What do you think the plants and animals are thinking? Apart from, stay where you are. On second thought, they’re probably just relieved to have normal life back for a bit. We’ve not been the best of roommates.