My last trip to town took place well before Christmas. Now, at the end of January, I am taking stock, making a list, preparing for the next foray off the Rock and into town.
The pantry is still pretty well stocked, the freezers are still nearly full. It has been a fairly mild winter and there are still plenty of vegetables to be found in the garden. Potatoes, carrots, parsnips, leeks, purple and green cabbages, cauliflowers, several varieties of kale, Swiss chard, beets and a couple of rutabagas remain, under mulches and in cloches, there for the plucking whenever I feel like wandering up to the garden to do a little harvesting.
There is still half a box of winter squash in the pantry, a couple of wooden apple boxes full of Blenheim Orange Russets and Grime’s Goldens under the house and an enormous Cinderella pumpkin sitting on the kitchen counter that I have only just begun to deal with. Physically, we are not going to starve to death.
Mental and social starvation is another story, but at least C. and I have one another, our pandemic pup Billie, four geriatric chickens in their coop, and a couple of neighbours whom we sometimes get together with for a distanced walk. So we are not necessarily going to die of loneliness.
We might yet die of boredom, but there is always some chore or project to be accomplished around the place and these keep us busy, in a “death by 10,000 chores” sort of way.
The recent dump of snow has made the great outdoors seem like an open air refrigerator, which suits C. to a T but I am quite happy to find indoor activities to occupy my days.
When I first came to live here in 1992, I swore I would avoid accumulating more stuff than I had already schlepped over to the island from former incarnations. I have been trying to use things up and wear things out ever since, and still have not managed to achieve this goal.
To this end I have taken up sewing non-medical masks from various fabrics that have been in my stash for decades, including a couple of Indonesian sarongs that I acquired over 30 years ago on an earlier Island adventure. Interesting how the past occasionally rears up to meet the present, bringing vivid memories and associations back from the brink of forgetfulness. It is a wonderful thing, and as I handle the colourful cotton batik fabric of those old sarongs, some of the adventures of that earlier time come to mind, and somehow make me appreciate the stability of this part of my life.
Recently I have taken to using the Internet to resolve some of the social gaps in my life during this crazy Covid time. Luckily we are able to connect quite well via satellite, a good thing as the telephone service here on our island is a bust; virtually non-existent.
Flash back forty years to another time and place. It is the winter of 1981 and I am sitting next to the roaring mouth of a six foot high open stone fireplace, the sole source of heat in the 16th century French farmhouse that belongs to my older Polish relative; cousin of my mother, my second cousin once, twice or thrice removed, I’m not sure which. Wieslaw has recently acquired the old stone relic of a building and due to its almost uninhabitable state, has pitched a tent in the middle of the living room, adjacent to the massive fireplace where we are seated.
My Canadian friend ML is there with us; she and I have been travelling together around Europe, as one did once upon a time, and have landed on my relative’s doorstep, late one evening, in the middle of a Dordognian, autumnal rainstorm. The three of us are having a merry time together, warming up with glasses of inexpensive (a.k.a., cheap) “vin ordinare” interspersed with liberal doses of Calvados, the regional specialty. We are debating (arguing) about the futuristic idea of an in-home “computer/telephone” type device that will allow one to do all of one’s business, communications, socializing etc. face to face, directly from one’s own home.
I remember clearly decrying the entire notion of such a concept. Utterly impossible, I recall stating emphatically. A completely ridiculous idea!
Fast forward to 2021, and here we are, up to our ears in the time of Covid, no longer able to explore Europe or anywhere else freely as we once could, and guess what?! I am using the home computer devices and the newfangled, Internet connection system to chat, face to face, with my nearest and dearest; most family and friends are only a click or two away, no matter how far away they are in reality.
I have been learning to do almost everything online, from the comfort of our own home, that I once did in real time: visiting the library, paying the bills, a bit of Christmas shopping, ordering some more seeds for this year’s vegetable garden and recently signing up for some “New Year’s resolution” yoga classes. The options are endless even if time is not.
The world is my oyster, or so I’ve been told.
copyright 2021 claudia lake