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A Photojournalist Captures Family Life Under Quarantine

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CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo

At first, I wondered whether the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order would be like living inside our own personal snow globe, amid an extensive collection of neighboring globes. My 7-year-old, Remy, and 3-year-old, Bo, immediately embraced the change, donning an impressive rotation of masks, capes, crowns and costumes. They were more prepared for creating their own new realities than I was.

CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo

As two weeks ticked by, I found myself giving a moment of gratitude one afternoon to the fence enclosing our backyard. It gave me 30 minutes of freedom as I let the kids run wild outside. When I saw them next, they were covered in mud. Life was unraveling. It was a Tuesday, and all the normal rules had been shredded and thrown in the air like confetti. But instead of cleaning up the mess, all I felt like doing was admiring the chaos and letting things unravel further.

CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo

By week three, we were rediscovering our own house, digging deep into the closet corners. We unearthed things we hadn't seen in years — my 1998 Rollerblades, a kite and an Irish cap that my husband, Ross, brought back into his daily wardrobe. Windy weather one afternoon meant Ross could give that kite flight again. He raced through the backyard, intermittently dive-bombing the children, until it finally soared.

CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo

By week four, Remy and Bo had started digging through the recycling, looking for treasure to beautify their tree fort. I watched them hand off piggy banks and miniature furniture to one another. They spent days decorating the fort with pipe cleaners, ribbons and tea sets. Then they announced they would be permanently "moving out."

CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo

That same week I started taking advice directly from the swamp next door. I thought about how it takes in toxins, churning them over like a giant strainer and purifying the water. It squeezes the best parts out of bad things — a perfect example of what to do when life gives you lemons.

CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo

On week five, we took a shortcut home from our neighborhood walk through a tunnel of trees. We talked about how trees track time through growth rings that are permanently logged into their layers. The harder the tree's winter, the tighter the growth ring. We decided to track our time together with a quarantine time capsule that we buried in the backyard to unearth in exactly one year.

As our world has slowed down, we've grown more aware of the other living things inside our invisible snow globe. Remy is sharpening her bird-watching skills. Every day, she tracks the new family that moved into the birdhouse from her tree fort, peering at them through binoculars.

CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo

She wants to bring more bird families to the backyard, so she and Ross constructed a new birdhouse out of wood scraps and recycling. The kids collected moss and leaves to put inside — a complimentary bird nest starter kit.

It looks like we'll be in the garage this week, divvying up leftover scrap wood to make more birdhouses. Bo wants a few scraps to construct an outdoor ant house. Everything else we find is for the birds.

Find more Stay-School Adventures on the Kids VT blog at kidsvt.com and at vimeo.com/channels/quarantine.

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