While out walking this afternoon, Martha and I noticed lots of people similarly enjoying the sunshine — walking dogs, riding bikes, doing lawn work, or something (anything!) that got the kids out of the house. We ran into a couple of friends and spent several minutes standing around — at a safe distance — catching up.

Along the way, I noticed two things.

One was about how crossing the street — which we did frequently to avoid other humans (and, for me, their dogs) — has changed. In the 20th century, we were able to tell whether it was safe to venture off the sidewalk by listening first, even before looking. If a car was coming, you’d always hear it and, as you grew older, you could even judge its speed and proximity by its sound. Now, with more and more electric cars on the road, those familiar audio cues of an internal combustion engine aren’t always present, so you can’t just trust your ears. I bet this has had a big impact on the vision-impaired.

The other observation was how much friendlier people were in the neighborhood. In the past, when I went out to do a couple of miles, rarely would anyone say a word to me — maybe a nod or wave here and there, but not much more. Today, folks were much chattier, perhaps reflecting their happiness at being able to converse with someone they’re not related to and quarantined with.