Note: I began this post the last week of May 2020. I had an idea to write about things that comfort me in, as they say in those T.V. ads, “these uncertain times.” I have been thinking about these uncertain times. I thought about the plagues of Europe I had read about. I thought about the Navajo Nation. I miss being with my children, but I know I am lucky; I just can’t hug them right now.
Then, things fell apart (even further than they ever have since January 2017). How can a pandemic with over 100,000 dead not be first on my list of sorrows this morning? I feel like I am back in the uncertain times of my youth, circa 1967-1968, but worse.
I need comfort even more today and I hope I can offer some respite for a few minutes.
About seven or eight years ago I asked my sister-in-law Judy if she would teach me to knit and she said sure. I have always admired my relatives and friends who could knit, crochet, and do other crafts. I thought I would enjoy knitting while I talked or watched T.V. Lord knows I could use the comfort and calm that such activities are supposed to provide. I bought enough soft brown (mostly) alpaca yarn to knit Tom a scarf. You will see below how far I got on the scarf. I wanted to concentrate on my knit/ purl tasks, but sitting with my family on reunion weekend, I just couldn’t. The words were more important to me than the task, I guess. Back home, I asked my friend Robin to help me back on track a couple of times, but I did not understand. I did not persevere.
A couple of years later when my friend Donna heard this story, she offered to teach me to crochet instead. I tried. Donna was very patient. She told there were YouTube videos I could watch to help me when I forgot–again–what I was supposed to do. You can see how far I got on whatever I was making below.
While I have not yet learned to do calming and lovely crafts–no March sister here knitting socks for the Union Army while waiting for Marmee to come home–I can do some things that comfort me some in these times.
I love nature and I love writing lists. Related to that, I have–sort of–wanted to be a naturalist for about 50 years. So, I love writing lists that include plants, animals, and specific tidbits about nature. I recently started a list describing the flora and fauna of Hillside Park, a nearby little public park where Tom and I volunteer. Just setting up the table and starting to list the trees helped me feel more relaxed than I had in days. Here is a sample from the list:
|arrowwood viburnum||Viburnum dentatum||yes|
|black cherry||Prunus serotina||yes|
|fragrant sumac||Rhus aromatica||yes|
|black locust||Robinia pseudoacacia)||yes|
|catalpa||Catalpa speciosa||yes||blooming now; end of May|
|kousa dogwood||Cornus kousa||no|
|mulberry, prob white||Morus alba||no||if this turns out to be red mulberry, it is a welcome native, but not likely, I think|
Books about trees comfort me. Last week, Among the Ancients: Adventures in the Eastern Old-Growth Forests by Joan Maloof reminded me of old forests I have walked in. Just writing this now, this morning, calms my anxious heart a little.
Like so many others, I have been doing quite a bit of baking these last months. Actually, I have needed to curtail this urge somewhat because a) while we do exercise and take walks, there has been a great deal of sitting while reading, watching T.V. and, for me, compulsive solitaire playing b) we don’t have the metabolisms we had back in the day when I would bake a treat every day.
Even more than my baking, watching Tom cook old favorites–remembering happy times with family and friends–comforts me. Both my appetite and my heart have been satisfied with Tom’s meals: Lasagna, albondigas soup, chile verde, meatballs and tomato sauce!
I don’t think listening to music calms me down; more like it excites me, makes me cry, and, sometimes gives me the shivers–but those reactions provide their own comfort. Mostly, we listen to classical music, but lately we have also been listening to folk and rock, too. Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Doc Watson, the Beatles, even the Beach Boys (Good Vibrations), have caused that sharp intact of breath.
I have been thinking about Leonard Cohen these last several days. The song I am particularly thinking about is Democracy. I hope Leonard is right and that someday (soon) , “Democracy is coming to the USA.” This idea comforts me and I still (mostly) believe it. Please be well. Please be safe. Peace.