I wake up early these days, even earlier than past habits would insist, around 4 am. The world is dark, but not the mind. My thoughts tend to ricochet in my head like the steely orbs in a pinball machine with continuous play. Most concerns center around friends and family, then encompass financial worries, and inevitably my own mortality. Heady stuff before one’s first cup of coffee, I’d say.
In bed, Buddy, my bulldog, finds comfort in sidling up next to me. I am his personal human radiator where he can lay his head on my back, and find the fit and stability of a cup to a saucer. When my legs go numb, we get up. Well, I get up.
Down in the kitchen nook, Buddy is an unwavering companion and eager listener when I discuss the tenets of isolation with him (especially if it precedes his meal time). He’s all for for it, basically a poster child for sheltering at home: eat, nap, whine, sit on a sunny porch, rub butt on door jamb, repeat. I’ve tried all of his protocols and have to say they’re quite effective as temporary curatives and distractions. Thank you, Buddy. Wise dog, grasshopper.
As for the rest of the day, you’d think I’d get more done. They say idle hands are the tools of the devil, but nah, that would take too much energy and focus right now. For me, idle hands are only that: idle hands. I feel like my Mo has broken up with my Jo. I walk around and look at things, as running subtitles follow me around the farm. I appear to be in some sort of wait-and-watch mode sanctioned by my own inaction.
“I really need to fertilize the orchard.”
“The pasture isn’t going to mow itself.”
“Time to harvest dahlia bulbs.”
“I really should finish venting the greenhouse.”
“The peach trees will die if I don’t get them in the ground.”
“It’s time to clean out the chicken coop.”
On the bright side, I am doing one thing (no, not bathing or doing dishes): keeping in touch with family and friends. I’ve never communicated with so many people on a daily basis. Phone calls, texting, emailing, facebooking, instagramming have all made my “house arrest” bearable.
And if I need a dose of realness, from a distance of course, I rely on my egg customers to check in from the back porch stoop with me behind the kitchen window. We chat, catch up, and in some unscripted way, wish each other good health and a return to normalcy.
When kindness pays a visit, the favor is returned in every goodbye and socially-distant wave. Some friends drop by with veggie scraps for the chickens. They too need a diversion, (both friend and chicken) and what better free entertainment than watching the social intricacies and shenanigans of a large flock of chickens fighting over leaves of wilted arugula and stale ciabatta. (Yep, gourmet friends.)
The streets of Seattle are abandoned, Vashon roads scenically (and eerily) empty. Yet, frog choruses cheer the woods. Daffodils dot sleepy pastures. Hens scratch, Roosters court. Tree moss turns green as a garden hose, and bees flee the hive like kids on spring break. Perhaps, the gift of isolation is just that. We have time to notice the world around us, to observe, and to reacquaint us with ourselves. (Nice to meet you, Tom.)
I may live on an island, but even in isolation, I am not alone. The world finds me in surprising ways, perhaps not in a hug or handshake as before, but instead in quiet moments of reflection and beauty. Fiddlehead ferns still unfurl. Buddy is still the handsomest chap in the house. Glorious spring sunsets still paint the sky. The fountain still welcomes a soiree of song birds, and I can still feel love.
Please, be well, practice safe health standards, listen to the experts, love your peeps, hug your dog (or cat, though a little more dicey) and don’t worry about what you didn’t do today, instead smile over who and what you loved today.
Here’s a gallery of images from around the farm, should you need a little field trip: