I hopped in my car, donned my mask and headed off as soon as I got the message.
"There is a box of macarons on my porch," Anne Lutkus had texted me and a lot of other people. "If you walk by, help yourself to celebrate my birthday."
When I arrived, I was relieved. There were macarons left.
Last year, when she turned 80, Anne had a party for herself, complete with fireworks. We sat on the porch of the Wadsworth Homestead in Geneseo and looked to the west as the rockets shot into the air, exploded, lit the ground below.
This year, given the fact that we’re all keeping away from each other because of the pandemic, there could be no fireworks, or even a party. But there were macarons on Anne’s porch, there for the taking.
Porches used to be for sitting. Now they’re for drop-offs and pickups — no-contact connections that make isolation tolerable.
As I’ve written, our side porch is a jigsaw puzzle exchange station. Friends call, put an order in for a 500-piece, not-so-hard puzzle or a 1,000-piece head-scratcher. My wife, Cindy Schmitt, sets one out of the porch. It’s gone; another puzzle is there in its place.
We have quite a few puzzles to lend, as a masked lady from Avon showed up after my column on jigsaw puzzles and left us 10 or so, just like that. We thanked her as she hustled back to her car.
One afternoon, I looked out on the side porch and there was a birdhouse made of license plates. It was there, I’m sure, in reaction to a column I’d written on how, given constrictions on travel, Cindy and I missed looking for license plates from other states as we drive.
There was no note with the license-plate birdhouse, but "From the shop of Ken Richardson" was stamped on the post. Ken lives around the corner from us. I didn’t know he made birdhouses. Now I do.
Other items show up on our porch. We open the door and see groceries, masks, books — proof that we are not alone, that kindness continues, indeed flourishes, in times like this.
There can be no fireworks; there can be no parties. But there can be puzzles and birdhouses. And there can be macarons, right there on Anne’s porch. I took two.