Pandemic Positives

We’re just about five months into the pandemic and I, like so many others, have begun to go stir crazy. As thankful as I am for all the good in my life, living alone in isolation is challenging. To stop the whining inside my head, I want to look at some of the positives the pandemic has added to my life.

My Quarantine Family – ever since moving to this house, my next-door neighbors have made me feel welcome in the neighborhood. Warm, friendly people with two girls, now 10 and 7, they’ve always been interesting to chat with on my way in and out. Since the quarantine, we’ve become an unofficial extended family, as we sit on our respective decks which are literally six feet apart. I don’t know that I could have managed without them, as they are the only actual humans I see on a regular basis now. I talk work, world and philosophy with J. He’s always available to help with any house related project and even redid my front yard landscaping. R and I talk about the girls, the challenges of the pandemic, drink wine, laugh and share stories. The girls just amuse the hell out of me. We’ve shared celebrations and concerns. It’s been a lot of fun getting to know them all as more than acquaintances.

My little deck

My Little Deck – This is my fifth summer at this address. Before the pandemic, I barely set foot on the little outside deck. As summers in Charlotte are super-hot and humid, basically unfit for human survival, sitting outside was not something I did. Since the pandemic, I’ve slowly transformed my deck into my favorite place to find some peace and commune with nature.

I love sitting at my little table in the early morning, when the world is still quiet. I can pretend everything is still as it was before and appreciate all the beauty that is around me. Right now, I’m sitting outside under the umbrella, with my laptop, fan and iced coffee. On weekend mornings, I listen to the cicadas, watch the squirrels climb the trees, and chat about life with my Quarantine Family. Not a bad thing at all.

Black Lives Matter – the time for making America safe for Black people is now. For too many years, America has maintained a system of inequality for Black people, from unwarranted stops to fiscal inequality to murder without consequence. The movement has made me look at my own implicit bias and challenged me to change my thought process. I am thankful for all those who have put their lives at risk marching and protesting in the streets to change America. And I am thankful that maybe this movement will result in some positive moves towards real change.

Squash Blossom (male)

Container Gardening – the most surprising thing about the pandemic is it allowed me to discover my inner gardener. Getting dirt under my nails never appealed to me before. Now, I am obsessed with my little container garden filled with herbs, flowers and greenery. Some of my experiments have turned out better than others – I noticed a flower growing from a sweet potato on my countertop and planted it. I’ve had to repot it three times as it has grown exponentially. Cooking with fresh picked basil, parsley, chives and thyme adds a whole new flavor to my food.

Every morning, I check on the garden. I water as needed, take pictures of the flowers, check the sex of my squash blossoms (I’m still hoping a female will bloom and produce some veg). I prune my tomato plants, deadhead my butterfly bush (and watch the butterflies flutter) and then enjoy the zen of my little deck.

Writing – after the shock of the first six weeks of isolation, I knew I needed to get back to my words. I had hired an editor to assess my novel, Fear of Falling, and her suggestions arrived soon a few weeks into the pandemic. After a few weeks of thinking, I started my weekdays an hour early, at 6:30 am. I was still getting up an hour later than when I had to commute and I got an hour to write before sitting down to work at my actual job. Since there’s not a whole lot to do on the weekends, I used that time to write as well. It took about two months, but I addressed all her suggestions and added almost 8 thousand new words to the book.

Having finished the draft, I resumed work on my new book, using that same method, an hour a day before work. I’m making real progress, although lately I’ve begun using that time to walk, as the Charlotte days and evenings are just too warm to exercise. As a result, one of my new goals is to train myself to write after work in the evening. It’s a challenge, I’m usually tired and cranky after a long day of work, but if I want to finish the new book, I need to work at it.

Bird Watching – yes, I’ve become one of those people. I hung a bird feeder a few months ago and have loved getting to know my local birds. The regulars are the cardinal family, Ralph and Loretta, Mavis the chickadee, and the greedy evil squirrel, Snidely. There are a few others who have not been a frequent enough guest to gain a name. Today, I’ was treated to a little hummingbird sipping from my Portulaca.

This is Mavis. The bird feeder has since been changes, as Snidely could access this one

The birds are shy and skittish, unwilling to get too close if they catch me looking. But watching them is a delight. They pick delicately through the birdseed, searching for a specific morsel. As a side benefit, the spilled birdseed has taken root and I think I’m growing corn.

I am truly thankful I’ve had an opportunity to widen my world and appreciate some new things. Instead of mourning what’s been lost, we need to appreciate what we’ve gained.

Ciao for now,

Lauren J

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