Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Home in a time of Covid

I'm trying to work out how many months I'd need to go back to get to a time when I wouldn't believe that I'd come home from school one day to pick up the mask cut-outs and get them all sewn up, like some bizarre pandemic version of the Elves and the Shoemaker. Except that there's only me, as presumably the elves would be not very good at self-isolating. This time last year I was also thinking about The Elves and the Shoemaker, but we're definitely into Grimm days now, and not the Ladybird book version. I think it would be only three or four months ago. Back when I thought hoped that Lockdown could last forever! 

I'm using the rest of the Black Watch material to make more masks. My father was very pleased with his yesterday, although he's unlikely to be going anywhere to need it! The fabric looks quite light in today's afternoon sun, but it's actually extremely dark and thus acceptable to the men of my house. Aren't we all very particular about the masks we'll wear, or indeed not wear? They really do seem to be this year's latest fashion accessory. Fat quarters are taking on a whole new role!

Having the big table turned into a mask production line made me think about what home is like now, especially with three of us back in our two schools. Shoes and blazers stay strictly at the front door where we're greeted by a little tomte of hope that a friend made for my birthday in the summer. He tries to be a cheerful little soul. I wonder what conversations he has with the plague doctor though. Do they argue? I do hope not. I bought the little mask many many years ago in Venice. I was on a three city tour of Italy with my brother, zipping between destinations in first class train carriages and glorious heat. It all seems so long ago, not just because it was in fact decades ago, but also it seems now something from The Olden Days when people got on planes and went places! 

Admittedly we did enjoy five days canoeing on and swimming in Lough Erne, in Northern's Ireland's lake county of Fermanagh, in July; and a week walking and climbing in our Mourne mountains in August. So, there are no complaints here about staying home. It is just interesting, isn't it, how quickly life, and our expectations of it, have changed? I know we'll all have either subtly or even dramatically different opinions about that, but here in the Meadowplace, we're happy to keep it small.

I follow a local potter on farcebook - Rachel Julca. During Lockdown she made batches of these pendants. I bought a few for friends who had Lockdown birthdays and for the women with whom I was, and still am, messaging and calling to extend mutual love and support. Two of us were saying just this week, as we discussed whether or not we'd be going physically back to church this month, that we have never once felt devoid of teaching or fellowship over the last six months, and that indeed we have felt more a part of the body of the church in these last few months than in these last few years. I think we have made more of an effort to cleave to each other, as we have cleaved to the faithful loving kindness of God. I'm keeping my pendant up in the kitchen until the Christmas tree goes up, and then it can hang there with all the other keepsake memories that come out to tell their stories at each year's end. 

And really, apart from these few things, inside the house there's not much changed. It is wonderful to come home from school in the afternoon to decontaminate and decompress. Maybe that's the biggest difference now: school clothes come off, masks go into the washing machine, everyone gets scrubbed, and we gather round a table for tea and tales. We are definitely taking more deliberate time to be together and breathe - breathe easily and breathe healthily. I do most sincerely hope that we will all be able to do the same through the next months of These Strange Times, esteemed blogging friends. Thus far has the Lord helped us, Blogland; thus far x

Sunday, 6 September 2020

First weekend in September

Here is the Hurricane Tree. It's right outside the kitchen window, and above it's outside Mattman's bedroom window which is where we stood ? years ago when Hurricane Ophelia blew through, relatively kindly as it turned out. We thought we could track the strength of the storm by how bare the tree would get hour by hour. It didn't! So here is the tree in the first weekend of September. I imagine month by month bare is exactly what it will get. And I am really very happy to see the first few orange leaves and to feel that different coolness in the air and to hear the crisper rustling in the branches that whispers Autumn. Is it too early to get the pumpkins out?
I'm also very very very happy that my little pear tree has THREE pears this year. It has only ever had one pear per year, and that only twice. So this is a rich harvest indeed. I am very excited. I am less excited about the potential broccoli harvest. Mattman and I joined the home produce enthusiasm over Lockdown, but I have to admit that growing food has never been my success, and if we get one head of skinny broccoli, we will count ourselves lucky indeed.
And because of a blessing in my school's timetabling on Friday, Prince Charming and I got a walk all to ourselves on Friday, and it was sublime. A bright blue sky sort of a day with coast and tides and blackberries and muddy paths and languid cows and fields of corn. It was good to be right out of the city, after two weeks back in school with masks and visors and a circuitous one-way system, and to walk far and wide with lungs full of clean and healthy air.

And so, fine blogland folk, blessings on your September. Here's what I'll be at:

What I'm reading: Psalms; Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo; Lilies for Gretchen, finally.

What I'm making: a tartan mask for my Scotland loving about to be 80 years of age father; Cushla's Comfort, a blanket in a secret colour; the Hookery Shawl, which only advances by six rows a week at my Hookery Crochet group which has been meeting in Zoom for six months now.

What I'm doing: getting used to us all being back at school (see Psalm 91); still thinking about signing up for an online course, deadline this Thursday; outdoor swimming in Belfast Lough with Jordanstown Lough Swimmers, and wondering if I can keep that up into October...

Happy Autumn  (let's all be like trees flourishing in the house of the Lord, whether we're back there physically or not, and whether they grow out of our heads or not) x


Happy St Patrick's Day!

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