The big question is, how long can we all go on talking about coronavirus before we lose our enthusiasm for the subject?

This is about the third week of the Big Panic in Maine and already many of us are getting bored with news of the whole thing. All that is keeping it fresh in our experience are the occasional new restrictions being imposed on civil society.

Restrictions such as the limit on how many of us can be at the supermarket (75) or at WalMart (100) or at the South End Grocery (5), and the various confounded systems these stores have been obliged to introduce for customers standing in line, waiting to be allowed in.

If you were to look back at some of the newspaper archives for certain previous times of crisis, you will see an intense focus on the matter in question in the first few days and maybe weeks, but after a few more weeks even a crisis becomes the new normal.

Times of crises I am thinking of include Pearl Harbor in 1941, the shooting of Kennedy in 1963, the Gulf War in 1991, Sep. 11, 2001, the invasion of Iraq to stop them using those Weapons of Mass Destruction they never had and possibly the miraculous election of Our Blessed Lord Prez Trumpleton in 2016.

All these events created a Disturbance in the Force, and caused vibrations of one kind or another, but after a while it became impossible to keep up the suspense.

Having said all that, there are some things I still feel should be mentioned before the topical fizz goes out of this present unwanted news. For example, I heard from a reasonably reliable source last week that the Eastport Port Authority was reporting locals have been following, photographing and even harassing members of the Coast Guard who are based down there.

Why are they picking on the Coasties? Because Coasties have cars registered out of state, and you just know how much people hereabouts are liable to get sensitive about people from away.

For example, I saw a car from Florida cruising through the Beloved South End earlier this week, and even I – a well-known paragon of modern Christian virtue and tolerance – felt a little queasy about it, before intervening and giving myself a strong talking-to. The car seemed a little early, but then again it might be quite normal. It seems harder to distinguish normal from not, these days.

Anecdotally, we do keep hearing about people who are being asked to open up camps and cottages, turning on the power and water for summer visitors who are showing up weeks and months before they normally would. Even our governor has warned these folks that Maine might not be the haven they think it is, pointing out that we have relatively few resources for them to draw on if the crisis gets any more crisiser.

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This being Holy Week and with church services suspended all over the place, the vicar of St. Bildad’s By-the-Sea in Rockland sent out a seasonal letter to parishioners the other day, pointing out certain modest parallels between the first Easter and Easter this year.

“None of us has seen a Holy Week or Easter like it. And I don’t want to deny that there is some real grief for many of us that we cannot worship together during these most holy of days. But that first Easter didn’t happen in a church either. It happened outside an empty tomb, while the disciples were sheltering in place, grief-stricken, and wondering what was going on. So, I think we are in good company.”

Wise words, vicar.

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Mother died Saturday, April 4, at 7:30 a.m. local time, after what professional obituary writers like to call a period of declining health, and 60 years to the day after my younger brother was born. Her family was not at her side, although she was not alone.

As many of you understand, to lose a parent is a notable experience, but not necessarily a grievous one. Mother has gone from what the Prayer Book calls “the Seen” into “the Unseen”, soaring at last into an unimaginable glory, quite beyond what we understand as time and space, but Dad is left behind on his own for the first time in 63 years.

It will be a struggle for him for a while, especially as these times will not permit him the comforts of church or friends.

Of course, as a dutiful son I am trapped here a long distance away, and not permitted to visit the Olde Country on account of The Plague. Only five are to be allowed at the graveside, and then for just a few minutes.

Such is life at the moment.

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I heard the following observation over the weekend, as a form of ironic commentary on the silences downtown and in our neighborhoods: Finally, all the restaurant workers in town have the same nights off work, but there is nowhere they can get together to enjoy each other’s company.

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A student of English literature has drawn my attention to an interesting parallel between these times we are living in, and a story about something a little more devastating that was published in 1957 and filmed in 1959.

Nevil Shute’s novel “On The Beach” tells the story of the last human survivors in Australia as nuclear radiation from a catastrophic war in the northern hemisphere gradually invades and poisons the southern part of the planet. All will die soon, so toward the end of the story the Australian government consents to relax the rules for the river fishing season, for if they all had to wait until the legal season arrived it would be too late.

It was pointed out to me that Maine, too, has relaxed its inland fishing season rules and is to allow us to fish without licenses.

A cheerful enough note on which to end.

David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at