70 Feet From My Front Door

April 29, 2020

My friend Rickey Bevington with GPB News 88.5FM Atlanta asked me for some of my thoughts on the ongoing virus and pandemic we have all been living with for weeks now. She called it an audio postcard from our times sheltering-in-place at home.

I wrote this essay and then recorded it. Yesterday they played my words on the radio on NPR’s All Things Considered. My wife and I and the two tiny children sat in my old black truck with the windows down and listened. It made us laugh. I was thankful for GPB to share my thoughts.

Here is what I said:

I’ve been at home for, um, let’s see 38 days. Or is it 39? I’m not quite sure at this point. I live down the street from a national heritage area. You would think I might walk down there to stretch my legs. But I haven’t left my property. Lucky for me I have a nice property – grass and a house and a barn and studio. Right now I’m sitting out back, sitting on my deck. There is a mix of bird sounds and car sounds. I really like the bird sounds. I am thankful for them. And the ever-greening grass and the woods. 

I think I would leave home and go for a walk or a drive perhaps if I wasn’t a new father to two tiny babies. Our boy is barely 2 and the new baby she is 4 months. As you could imagine, that keeps me and my wife really busy. At least we have the green grass for the boy to run around in.

kyle BlackCatTips brooks, georgia folk artist

I am a folk artist for a living. I make paintings and draw pictures and build somewhat sculptural things. Stacked tires and painting wood type things I screw together. People think my house is a day care. Funny what people think when you put happy art and colors where they normally don’t go. Smiley faces and bears put in the yard. Watching all the shelter-in-place cars, maybe I am a day care center for 2 children. Yes I think I am. We are.

We are also in a strange time. Things seem normal here. And pretty. The bird calls are normal. The sky is blue like normal. The grass needs cutting like normal. But when I reach out to others or look at the news on my phone, or read anything … it’s all not normal. And I have a hard time with that. I’ve gone from being very concerned to now sometimes I don’t know if it’s all real or not. The virus. This pandemic. Is it real? I mean, I’m just here with my little family and making my art when I can. This seems real. But is it real out there? Beyond the trees and grass and birds?The bird calls are normal. The sky is blue like normal. The grass needs cutting like normal. But when I reach out to others or look at the news on my phone. Or read anything … it’s all not normal.

Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks and family- April 2020 at Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Is the virus riding by in the cars on the road, 70 feet from my front door? If it is real I’m sure that it is riding by. It’s probably drifted across our green grass. Maybe it’s on the fast food wrapper someone threw out their window next to my driveway. And that worries me.

I think I’ll just stay home for some more days. A while longer. Until I can tell if it is real or not. And hope that I can whittle out some time between the children and the grass cutting to do what I enjoy, paint pictures and make art. And maybe make some money too. For diapers and what not. That’s about what I would be doing if things were normal. Trying to balance my working from home with being home and keeping 2 tiny children happy. And a wife happy. People say my art is happy. And deep down that’s about all I can ask for. That and two pretty babies. I wanna be happy. Let’s be happy. I think that is real.

You can play the audio from GPB 88.5FM here.

Fun times to you,
Kyle BlackCatTips Brooks