Saturday, April 25. Day 40 of Quito’s COVID19 Lockdown.
Day 40. Quarantine or “Cuarentena” comes from the Italian word “cuarenta,” meaning 40 and refers to the 40 days that ships arriving in Venice would have to wait before disembarking in an effort to protect the city from the spread of the Black Plague. In the Genesis story of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights before stopping. After escaping Pharoah and crossing the Dead Sea, the 12 tribes followed Moses and wandered in the desert for 40 years, lost and murmuring. Before entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus was tempted by Satan for 40 days in the desert. The Christian calendar marks 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter. Clearly the number 40 is mythically important and seems to connect to forced reflection in an era of tumult, confusion, and radical change.
On the news today, reports multiply of Donald Trump encouraging scientists to inject COVID patients with detergent in order to cleanse the human body of the virus.
I feel relieved that we have made it this far alive.
The morning sun grows stronger and it is clearly time to move my itty bitty caterpillar colony into a jar. I am worried that when I open their incubator they will fall onto the floor and happily find my house plants or favorite wool sweaters and happily devour them. Out of an abundance of caution, I tape a paper bag to the window below the incubator in order to catch any stragglers. I carefully peel off the tape around the plastic viewing window and then use two envelopes to collect the caterpillar babies. I slide them off the paper. Some of the caterpillars spin out fine threads as they fall into the jar. I add in lettuce. I worry about them eating and add a few other kinds of leaves just in case. A broken begonia leaf. Two lemon verbena leaves gathered from my indoor garden. I measure one of the caterpillars with a clear plastic ruler. 2 millimeters! I watch them scamper along the glass for a long time through the amplified viewing panel of my phone camera. They scrunch along intently like little inchworms.