The Beginning. March 15, 2020
By: Sara Terry
“These Days,” a visual diary, begins here, in my kitchen on Sunday afternoon, March 15th as the world continues to close down – and as I find myself drawn to photographing and writing about hearts that are opening up, including my own.
My background is in journalism. I was trained in how to cover the news. And I know what the news images are out there – the empty shelves and lines of people with masks. I’ve made some of them, and posted them. And we need to see the news. It’s so important.
But in the twenty years that I’ve been working as a documentary photographer and filmmaker, my work has become more personal, more conceptual. It’s still about social issues, but it’s driven by my need to understand how we define our humanity, and what the role of community is in helping us define that humanity. A friend of mine wrote a few days ago that pandemics can bring out the worst in people, the greed and selfishness. But so far, I have encountered kindness – strangers who post on neighborhood chat threads, offering their help to anyone who needs it; people checking in with friends they haven’t been in touch with for months; neighbors texting to see if I’m okay, if I need anything at the grocery store. (Toilet paper, please).
And so I find that I need another way to tell the story of these days. It started here today in my kitchen, when I baked a chocolate cake. Chocolate buttermilk, with chocolate cream cheese frosting (my favorite) to be exact. I wrote an email to my neighbors, inviting them to come by for a piece of cake, to keep whatever social distance they needed – to sit in my garden and enjoy it, or to stand at my door while I bring them a piece to take home.
I don’t know if anyone will come. But I needed to do this today, to cook for community. And besides, today is my niece’s birthday. More than social distancing keeps us apart – she lives two thousand miles away. But this cake is for her. I’ll blow out the candles in her honor and share it with whoever stops by or asks me to deliver a piece to them. Happy birthday, Principessa.