I am a fan of the history of England and Ireland, as those are my ancestral parts of the world. And it seems that, while our recent pandemic is ugly, it’s not the worst in recorded history. If you want to see one of the worst, read a diary kept by Samuel Pepys in London in 1665. The bubonic plague decimated the city, and it appears that he survived because he did not have contact with those infected. Wealth allowed him to live in a less dangerous area than others in London. Then, just to make his life more challenging, a year later London suffered the Great Fire of 1666, decimating what was left of much of the city, but distance again saved him.

            As we have learned firsthand the past two years, as with Pepys, distance can save our lives. It seems that we are again at risk from a new COVID variant, and I, like many others, am unsure when and where to mask up and when to distance from others. Today I offered to shake hands with a new acquaintance who was within my reach, but she waved her hand up and down, signaling that she preferred not to touch hands. I admired her clarity. I’m willing to learn from her and from Samuel Pepys.

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