Social Distancing/Quarantine: Days 25-31


Day 25: Monday, April 6
There are always larch needles in the kale, it’s inevitable. I rotate the kale in plots in the far garden, the one lined by maple trees and tamarack. This time of year the needles sprout like soft tufts of fluorescent green moss from stringy, knobby branches. In the fall they blaze golden before trickling to the ground. Each November I find them when I bring in bushel baskets of kale to blanch and freeze. I shake out what I can, but there are always more hiding in the curly folds.

I’ve never thought twice about eating a stray larch needle before. Today, when I find one in my lunch I pluck it out, worried that diverticulitis would send me to the hospital. This is a place we are all desperately trying to avoid.

I go to that far garden, the one lined with larch, to turn autumn leaves into the onion plots. This same soil grew potatoes last season. It’s black gold, filled with worms still churning the rich compost we used to hill the potatoes.

Later I rake leaves out of the front garden plantings and I wonder: if I can smell your perfume, can I catch your covid? She’s walking down the sidewalk. We say hello. I can smell her from 20 feet away. I hold my breath and smile.

Day 26: Tuesday, April 7
I text my mom to ask her if she’s called the pharmacy about her plaquenil prescription to check if there are shortages because of covid. She says she has 30 days, but she’s not sure how long it will take to refill or if she’ll be able to. It seems like “protecting the most vulnerable” has morphed into “protecting ones-self at all unproven cost even if it threatens the most vulnerable.” She’s been on this medication for 8 years. It helps keep her alive.

I plant 100 copras and 75 shallots in freshly turned plots. We’re down to our last 4 copras from 2019.

We hike into the woods and meditate on the falls.
Nothing profound unfolds for me.

Eric has always wanted windchimes, so I made him some for his birthday out of a plant hanger, some sticks I found in the woods, and two chimes I cut off a meditation bell that we never used but sounded so beautiful that Eric would never let me get rid of it. We hang it on the back porch.

I unspool all 150 feet of hoses so I can water the onions. This is a two person job, with Eric stationed at the house and me out in the field. He waits for me to give a shout that it’s time to turn on/off the water. For 14 years we’ve talked about running underground irrigation, or finally fixing our well pump. But we never do.

Day 27: Wednesday, April 8
Drinking coffee in the morning we talk about the virus, even though I’ve told Eric that talking about it right after I wake up is bad for my mental health.
I have a panic attack shortly thereafter.
Eric comes into the dining room periodically to check on me.
When he comes in at one point I make a joke.
“Did you take a shot?” he asks me. It’s 10:41 in the morning. I look at him indignantly and then I laugh.
“I did NOT take a shot!” I pause. ” Maybe I should?”

I keep hearing cars honking outside. First I wonder if it’s a bunch of bored teenagers. Then I think it must be a makeshift parade. I look out the windows of the sunroom. I could use a parade. But all I see is a pink mylar balloon and a big sign in our neighbor’s yard. Another car honks. I search for the binoculars. Is this my life now? The sign says something to the effect of: “Honk for Bella. Happy Birthday!” These aren’t very good binoculars.
It’s remarkable how many people are honking. 98% of the cars. It makes me tear up a little.

I have second panic attack in the afternoon. This is a record for me.
Today is hard.

Day 28: Thursday, April 9
In the middle of the night I wake up to use the bathroom like I usually do. I expect my brain to go through its normal routine. Behaving like it’s one in the afternoon. Wide awake and incessant. Following me around reminding me of all the things I was worried about yesterday.

Instead, it’s all quiet and I wonder if my mindfulness meditation is working after all.
I feel a deep sense of peace. A warmth spreading from my core. A lightness radiating.
“This is nice,” my mind says. And then I know it’s over. My mind has found a way to co-opt this peace for itself. To identify with it. To rob it of its neutrality. But I accept this fact too. I feel gratitude for that moment, no matter how fleeting.

Eric loses his keys.
“I never lose my keys,” he tells me and although I question this for a moment, (because he does tend to be the one in our family that loses things) I realize, after several seconds of contemplation, that this fact is actually true. I have never known him to lose his keys in the 22 years I’ve known him.
“When was the last time you went anywhere?” I ask him.
We both have trouble answering this question.
After searching through all the couch cushions, on every dresser and table, through all of his pants pockets and jackets I find them in the pouch of his backpack.
“That’s right,” he says.

I walk into the parlor after video chatting with my sister. Eric is laying in the middle of the floor, arms and legs splayed out. As if he fell from the ceiling, or splatted like a bug. His eyes are closed, he’s wearing headphones. Listening to the album he just finished. The one he’s been working on since the beginning of the quarantine. He looks so peaceful, and also dead, and it makes me laugh. My laughter startles him.

Day 29: Friday, April 10
I thought I was doing a good job managing the food in the refrigerator but I just found three different containers filled with a partially used lemon.

Day 30: Saturday, April 11
I spend several hours cleaning the scales off my cactus.

Day 31: Sunday, April 12
Eric and I drink coffee in the sunroom. By the time he comes downstairs to join me I’ve lit incense and put Bach on the record player.

After breakfast we sit at the picnic table watching bluebirds perch and drop into the grass for insects.

We hike to the waterfalls for an Easter meditation. I think about death and rebirth and what that means for all of us. Dying to myself every day. I open my eyes after a deep meditation and have the disorienting sensation that I am floating above the falls.
The church bells in town are ringing as we leave the woods.

We bring shovels into the near garden and edge the oregano to keep it from spreading into adjacent plots. We brainstorm about what else we can plant in this shady spot. The ramps we transplanted last year are doing well. Eric suggests horseradish.

We get dressed up for Easter dinner, even though it’s just the two of us. Eric prepares a pork loin with our rosemary and last season’s garlic. We add our potatoes to the pan, roast some of our beets and the last of our carrots. When I read about the meat plant closures I wonder if it’s the last pork we’ll eat for awhile. I appreciate it more because of that.

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