Tuesday was the anniversary of lockdown, here, and I meant to write this post then. But I had my first jag on Monday and looking at the computer screen gave me a headache. Back to normal now. Though I am feeling irritated with myself as I went all the way down to my allotment to plant some seeds in the polytunnel, and forgot to take the seeds with me. I took everything else, including a bucket of extra fine compost, but left the seeds on the kitchen table. My normal isn’t what it once was. But I don’t suppose anyone’s is.
I know lots of people are finding lockdown increasingly difficult, several of my friends are among them, and I feel really sad for them. I’m not finding it difficult, but that’s because I spent thirty years married to a narcissist, so I’m used to making the best of confusing, frightening situations. I almost feel I should thank my ex-husband for preparing me so well for this. Don’t worry, people who care about me, I’m not going to. I’ll just note a few of the things that lockdown has given me, that I wouldn’t otherwise have had, and that have substantially enriched my life. Yep, this is a Pollyanna post.
The Daily Walk
Living in the Scottish countryside has it’s upside, and being able to go out for long walks without bumping into a single other human is one of them. Under normal circumstances I love bumping into other people, and I’ve always preferred walking in cities, but Covid taught me how to enjoy wandering in the hills, along the river and, when restrictions eased and we could go further than five miles from home, along cliff tops. I love walking along cliff tops! As a bonus I’m now fitter than I’ve probably ever been. I went from averaging no more than a couple of thousand steps a day to over ten thousand, and this year my average daily step count is already over 19,000.
But I now have a new number to fixate on, that of active calories.
Thanks to D. giving me an Apple Watch for Christmas, I now have ‘rings’ to close and challenges to rise to. This month’s challenge is to burn 19,900 calories. And, although the month still has a week to go, I’ve already achieved it. I always need something to work towards and, while I seem to have lost the ability to focus on my writing, this is doing a fine job of standing in.
Before increasing my step count became a thing, I needed something to focus on, so I followed the herd and taught myself to bake sourdough. We both love it, and we couldn’t get to our favourite bakeries to buy it, so it seemed like a good use of my time. Also, it was just difficult enough to give my mind something to work on without being too frustrating.
As the year wore on I became more comfortable with the process and, thus, more adventurous, adding various flavours and changing up the flours and oils. I also had much fun inventing things to do with all the extra starter that builds up in jars in the fridge. I’ve made the best English Muffins ever; oddly bouncy pancakes; waffles; crumpets and, my favourite, the cronut: a delightful cross between a donut and a crumpet.
A year on I still bake at least once a week, and I do it without thinking. Baking sourdough has become part of my routine, and a very delicious part.
Some years ago I read of a young artist whose media were vintage silk underwear and embroidered text. I loved what she did, but it never crossed my mind to try it for myself. Then, last summer, I was invited to take part in a multi artist project that involved embroidered words. I said yes without really thinking about it, then I had to teach myself how to wield a needle. Thank goodness for You Tube!
I have several notebooks filled with sentences I’ve come upon in my reading that have particularly interested me, for whatever reason. It may be the rhythm of the words, it may be the image they conjure, it may be aspects of the meaning – reference, connotation, ideas, humour – that moves me to note them down. Up till now, those sentences have remained in the notebooks, like a treasure trove. But thanks to having learnt to embroider I now have something to do with them, and if you look closely at the hem of my jeans, or the cuff of my jacket, or the pocket of my shirt you may find one embroidered there, in coloured silk.
Like baking naturally fermented bread and taking regular exercise, embroidery has become an enriching new part of my life.
It’s been a difficult, challenging year. For some it’s been horrendous, and it still is. I know people who have died of the virus, people who are still suffering long term problems of having contracted it, and people who are slowly being driven to insanity by it and/or our collective response to it. I feel for everyone of them, and I hope that by looking at some of the positives that have come my way as a direct result, that anyone reading this will be able to see the positives that have come theirs. Let’s hope the vaccine roll-out will allow us all to get back to our lives soon.