Teddy Bears guide me from place to place as I bravely set out on daily dog walks. Widely publicised so you will have seen them yourselves, they’re peeping from curtains, or in acrobatic piles on windowsills, some wearing mini-facemasks. Those bubbles with no suitable, street-facing windows have made do with teddies in cars, teddies on letterboxes, aloft in treehouses or on gazebo roofs, in residence in caravans. Those with no teddies have improvised too. Paper bears, carefully cut out and coloured in. One house I pass obviously doesn’t have a Bear so they’ve gone outside the box with a carefully placed box of Beer instead.
Neighbourhoods are blossoming other ways of connecting with those around them too. I walk past a day’s worth of colourful chalk drawings on the foot path. Rainbows, the name Amber, unicorns, a cottage with a path and smoke puffing out of the chimney, ten gawdy stars, a dozen spirals in a plethora of dazzle (Amber has been busy). “Stand together,” she’s carefully written, adding in brackets “but two metres apart”.
Around the corner a family has gathered their feijoa crop, potentially breaking the lockdown code, and hung offerings in bags along their fence line. In a child’s scrawl the accompanying sign says, “Picked with a glove, and love.” The people who stop to take the feijoas might not know the people who bagged them up but there’s a virtual link between them now. For ever after when those receivers walk that path they’ll say to each other, “Remember during the lockdown when we got that feed of feijoas from this fence.”
Every other day a box of veges has appeared beneath my letterbox with a note to: “Wash well”. One day it was chilis and capsicum. One day aubergines and beetroot. It’s a gesture bigger than its parts. It’s the time someone took to think of me, to pick these veges, to box them up, to drive them over, to write the note.
All along my daily route there’s little notes, expressions of people taking the time to do a little something for the people who might pass by, whoever they are. People they won’t see, and who won’t see them. “Kia kaha neighbours!” says one. “We can do this!” says another.
They’re not government issued, there’s no directive to do this, there’s no advertising call-to-action. These are tiny tohu, or tokens, that took up some time and put something out into the world whose reason for being is just to Be. They are pointless and poignant, inconsequential and significant, trivial and treasured, ephemeral and memorable; each an oxymoronic memento of this crazy time.
So take a moment to make a something that shares a story from your bubble with whichever other bubble happens to wander by.