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Marcia Aldrich




Hole[1]


Yesterday while I was walking Omar[2] up Cave[3] at about 11:30, I noticed a young man shoveling out dirt in the construction site called BLIS.[4] Since this development began three years ago,[5] I have witnessed countless times when someone has had to dig dirt from an area that had been dug before. Over and over, a hole was dug, then filled in, then undug, and then covered again.[6] This time the hole was in an area planted with yellow rose bushes, an area already landscaped.[7]



This digger was young,[8] wore a tan shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and jeans. No mask even though masks are mandated on the construction site. Signs announcing the protocols are hung on the fence in multiple places and then ignored.[9] Of course, it would be suffocating to wear a mask when undertaking such physical labor. I get hot just walking for an hour with a mask.[10] Imagine hours of shoveling.[11] I walked Omar later in the day up Cave and passed the digger again.[12] He was still singlehandedly shoveling out what had become a large and deep hole. How deep did it have to go?[13] I couldn’t help say, That looks like hard work.[14] He paused shoveling, looked up at me on the sidewalk, his long brown hair falling over his face, and said, I’ve been at it since eight this morning.[15] I don’t know what I said in response.[16] He went on: I’m scooping up handfuls of money, that’s how I look at it. I saw mud, he saw money.

[1] A hollow place in a solid body; a small or unpleasant place; a gap. This odd pandemic time. [2] My ancient dog who I accompany on his meanderings, stopping frequently to smell this and that, often the same place he smelled the last time we passed through. [3] Cave Avenue named after the Cave family whose storied history forms one of the foundations of Bainbridge Island. [4] Formerly named Bainbridge Landing. Includes 107 apartments, 7 loft homes, 18 townhouses, and 114 parking stalls, built between Cave Avenue and Ferncliff, in downtown Winslow. At this writing, some of BLIS is still under construction. A 1 Bed/1Bath apartment starts at $2,100. A 2 Bed/2 Bath starts at $3,275. A month. [5] When I moved to Bainbridge Island, the 5 acres that BLIS is built on was a wild green space. That space was demolished and 3 years of construction began and has not ended. [6] This cycle of labor, the digging and the covering, has come to stand for my view of what human beings do in their pursuit of money. [7] Odd that though the project is incomplete, it has already been landscaped. Much of which has already withered and will have to be replanted. See Note 6. [8] All the workers are young, though not all of them are in good health. I’d guess this young man was in his late 20s. [9] Not unlike everywhere else on the island. Some of the most vulnerable, the elderly, walk about as if they haven’t heard about the virus. As if they’ve been invulnerable for their whole life, why should it end now? [10] My nose starts running almost immediately after I fit the mask to my face as if I am allergic to it. [11] I bet you can’t. [12] I pass many things again and again with Omar. [13] I wondered but did not ask. [14] Pretty stupid thing to say. What prompted me? [15] I thought about that—about the multiple times it had rained during that stretch, how one time the rain was hard and furious. I can’t imagine it was fun scooping up dirt the rain had turned to mud. [16] I rarely remember what I say. I am so intent on listening that I almost erase myself from the picture. Even now, during this pandemic, when people ask me how I am doing, I can’t say anything about myself. I mention my son who has lost his job in Seattle. I mention my daughter, a nurse, who has been working long hours in the COVID ICU unit at Harborview Hospital but who now is facing a furlough. I think of all who are suffering but I do not think of myself.

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