I don’t think I have ever, in my life, struggled with finding words as much as I have this past 3 months. Lockdown life is bewildering, challenging, tearful, gloriously quiet, restful, heartachingly sad, furiously angry, grief filled, joyful, and all the feelings inbetween. Often all of the feelings all in one go, which is a challenge in itself. Creating a protective bubble around my kids, where they know what is happening, and why, but feel safe, connected with friends and largely unaffected, has been the challenge of my life. I am tired and yet still my mind is full of the never ending lists of things I want to get done. Reminding myself to slow down, take it steady and just breathe is a daily affair. I have been trying harder recently to follow the advice of a wise friend, Fiona, who has shared guided meditations and mindful wisdom on Insta. Be like water, let it flow – easier said than done in these challenging times, but impossible unless you try. Writing down the never ending lists before I go to bed has been helpful too, as well as making time to listen to restful music, meditations and my weekly engagement with Beccy Owen’s Couch Choir. A weekly Zoom choir where I get to both sing my heart out AND see the faces of friends lost in their own song, is truly uplifting and deeply cathartic. I have been anchoring my weeks with gratitude and joy to these regular hours of Sunday song.
Through the days we have been tethered to our home, (77 days so far as I write this) one thing we have managed to not be, or at least, not be for very long, is bored. I realize that despite our financial poorness, we live in a house rich with creative resources, brimming bookshelves, healthy supplies of paint and pastel and pens, endless boxes of scrap fabric. I feel heart achingly aware of the privilege of that. I have had days where deciding on which job or creative task to do first has been a struggle, as a half dozen of them present themselves on any given day. But our days have felt mostly productive, oddly fulfilling, calm and peaceful. I have learnt to spin. The children are raising Painted Lady butterflies. I have made quilts and worked on special secret gifts for friends. We have approached this planetary pause with a sort of “one day at a time” motto, and we are making it work, as best we can, in all the ways we can. The garden has featured hugely in this, from planting, pond planning, camping and just being and I feel so glad to have the privilege of all that our outdoor space that has afforded us over the last 11 weeks.
Today, I tackled the overgrown potato pots in the back garden. They’ve been the home to snails and a million Herb Robert seedlings since we dug up last years potatoes. Top growth of plant matter went into the wormery, and the soil into a huge bucket, to be used for earthing up the pots as the potatoes grow. No fancy seed potatoes here – the bottom drawer of my fridge was had a collection of long forgotten potatoes that had chitted themselves, so in they went with a covering of soil and lots of hope for a good crop later in the year. No fancy pots either, we have been reclaiming and re-purposing all the storage boxes and planters that have been gathering dust, cracked or broken, and just wedged them all together to keep the soil in. It’s an experiment in container gardening for sure!
We are hugely behind in our efforts to grow things this year – but are going for it anyway. I have sown cucumber seeds this week, and have strong healthy courgettes almost ready to plant out. The children have grown peas, and sweet peas, and they seem to be doing well in the sunshine. I am thrilled too – I got some comfrey roots a month or so back, from my friend Sarah – and I’m so delighted that they are already flowering. The bees are happy too. In a year they will be big enough to harvest for more healing comfrey ointment (find my recipe here) and I’m planning to try and grow some more from seed so I have a second patch for making comfrey tea for our plants. I am feeling hopeful that things will grow, and that in the growing and tending of our plants, in weekly song and in all of our creative endeavors we will continue to find much needed solace.
My blog and everything in it will always be free to inspire and support people to live with less plastic, live more sustainably, live with less, and work to reduce the impact of climate change. It does, however, incur running costs. If you are able to contribute to these costs you are welcome to leave a tip in my tip jar here. If you are able to support me monthly, and would like some beautiful handmade creations in exchange, check out my new Patreon site. If, however, in these financially challenging times, you’re not able to do either of these things, please know that sharing the link to this post on your social media platforms is more than enough. Stay well. Thanks and love, Kate.