It’s not just fear of Covid-19, but how the pandemic has affected the grocery-store supply chain that commands my attention these days.
In the early days of lockdown in mid-March, although it seems like a lifetime ago the television news broadcast images of shelves emptied of everything, not just flour and toilet paper, as panicky people stocked up to shelter in place. By mid-April it was clear that some shelves would remain sparse, and not just because of so-called panic buying: The essential workers who bring us our food (truck drivers, warehouse handlers) were under terrible strain, and the closure of restaurants and cafes had created logistical confusion, as giant industries attempted to shift, adjust, and reformulate delivery chains on a massive scale.
Looking back over the columns I have written over the last five decades as I ready myself for a seismic shift of my own, giving up my weekly Connections I came across one from 33 years ago, dated April 14, 1987, in which I wrote admiringly of East End families that relied on game to augment their larders.
Shotguns were not as prevalent in the 1980s as they had been in earlier years, certainly, but many families still used them for hunting. “The sound of birds these early mornings is punctuated by the hoarse call of pheasants, I wrote. If you are up and about in the village at an early hour you may see them scurrying from one cover to another across greening lawns.”
Pheasants are definitely not as plentiful today as they were back then, but over-hunting, I am confident, is not the reason. (I would suspect loss of habitat overdevelopment, in other words.)
Grandmothers, I wrote in that 1987 column, were quick to call a grandson with a shotgun when they heard the sound of a pheasant despite the fact that it was illegal to