Karen Schwaller

Covid-19 brought with it a host of peculiar human behaviors that may have actually served best to remind us of why Marlin Perkins chose to host a television show about the animal kingdom.

Compared with human behaviors when they feel threatened, I’m pretty sure he thought it would be easier to explain animal behaviors since he only had 30 minutes to work with.

When the squirrels know the winter will be harsh, they store up more nuts than can be found on any courtroom T.V. show.

When a tsunami is going to hit, the elephants will gather their young and head for higher ground.

When a chameleon feels threatened, all it does is change color to match its environment.

But human beings have a whole different way to panic. When threatened by the warning of a six-inch snowfall, it’s a rush to the grocery store to get all the essentials: six loaves of bread, five gallons of milk, ten dozen eggs and a bag of coping candy to be creatively hidden from the children.

Covid panicking, however, created a whole new branch on the oak-and-acorn tree — in the hoarding of toilet paper.

My mother always had a long list to take with her to the grocery store — storm or not. And with a family of nine, toilet paper was usually on that list (and lots of it). After all, she had to have it cocked and loaded if she was going to be the one responsible for going to town to get more if we ran out — which was not going to happen, living 10 miles from anywhere.

Mom would always write “bathroom tissue” on her list of things to buy, in case she lost her list and someone else found it. She would say, “… it would be nicer if they saw ‘bathroom tissue’ on the list instead of ‘toilet paper.’ “

My mother must have learned to be proper from the British.

And for as much fun as we like to make of people coming out of stores with more toilet paper than common sense, there are actually principles that those coveted white rolls of hope can teach us about life. Here’s my take on it:

• You don’t have to be famous to be noticed.

• Some cleaning essentials are taken for granted until you can’t get them anymore.

• Some days are over the top, and some days it’s hard to roll out from underneath the covers. Choose how your day will be and keep going.

• Some days you’re in it deeper than others, as most livestock producers will concur.

• It’s all about being flexible. No matter where you find yourself, show up for the job.

• Value is in the eye of the beholder. The closer a person is to the end of the roll, the more each square retains its value.

• The thicker (skinned) you are, the more you can take.

• If each square remains connected to the other and works together, they create something larger than themselves.

• Some days our lives are neatly folded; other days seem all crumpled up. Regardless, we still have a job to do, and we just need to do it.

• Hanging out somewhere new every now and then — such as in a tree — gives us a new perspective on life and can give us new adventure and purpose.

• The more people who want something from you, the more you spread yourself thin.

• Moderation is the key to staying power. Don’t take more of things than you need, lest your toilet paper roll — and your bank account — grow thin.

Karen Schwaller brings “Table Talk” to The Land from her home near Milford, Iowa. She can be reached at kschwaller@evertek.net.