I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Hanging in there

Keeping a bit of distance (vtpeacenik photo)
A week ago, I couldn't have imagined how much the world would change in seven days. It makes me wonder what it will be like in another week. I wake up each day and have to think what day of the week it is. Not that it matters much, they are all the same now, except for my usual blog post schedule, which doesn't seem all that important any more. But it is, and I need to find some ways to make my emerging daily routine help me stay safe but still continue to get exercise.

Yesterday was a glorious sunny day around here. It's time to start getting the garden ready for planting, and my front porch flower pots ready as well. Our wonderful Gardener in Chief, Carter, bought a yard of compost for our community garden and has been spreading it out among all the different garden plots. I went out there yesterday hoping to get my own garden spot ready for planting, but he had already cleared out most of the weeds and plopped a wheelbarrow full of compost on top. I asked if I could have some of the compost for my front porch, and he gave me some of the heavy, dark soil to carry up the stairs. As I transferred it from a borrowed bin, I noticed how warm the soil is. Just by itself, it is generating heat. I found this information online:
Temperatures rising in a hot-compost pile come from the activity of numerous organisms breaking down organic matter. To keep a pile running hot, pay attention to four elements: carbon, nitrogen, water, and air. A hot pile requires enough high-nitrogen materials to get the pile to heat up.
There certainly seems to be plenty of high-nitrogen materials in this compost. I will work on getting it mixed in with the existing soil in my flower pots today. And then I'll think about what flowers to plant in them. It's a very satisfying activity.

I also have received a notice from my local Y that they have put lots of videos on their website, so that I can set up my iPad in an area that has enough room to move, and select yoga, bootcamp, older adult exercise, and more. Virtual wellness programs are a lot easier to make myself do the work than trying to do it alone. I don't know about you, but I simply cannot seem to get up much incentive when there's only me. Other people may not be as socially dependent on others as I am. After decades of working out in classes, I miss the camaraderie and shared experience. I'll give the videos a try, though.

I learned that language and the way we talk about this time we're in makes a huge difference. We now talk about social distancing from one another to keep from spreading the virus, but it's really physical distancing we need. I found this opinion article on CNN, titled "Don't call it social distancing," because those words can foster social disconnection and isolation, which isn't good for anybody, but especially many of us seniors who already fight to stay connected with like-minded people.

We will get through this, but it is going to be a very different world on the other side. And we won't know how it will all shake out for weeks or months to come. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have my virtual family, my fellow bloggers, to visit daily. Hearing about how others are going through this trying time, and how we are trying to stay safe while everything "out there" represents the danger of infection. Eventually more than half of the population of the world is projected to have contracted this disease, and 80% will recover just fine. Most of the lucky ones are not elderly, like me, however. I try to keep some perspective, but it's hard sometimes. I miss my coffee shop friends. I miss my social connections.

There are kitchens and living rooms I will never visit in person, but they are like home to me in many ways. I care about so many of you, and how you are doing during this very scary moment in the history of the world. No country or location is spared, and we have the opportunity to make the world better, more connected in positive ways, or devolve into warring factions. I will do my part to make it a better place, and I know that you, my dear friends, will too. We must stand up for our belief that good will prevail.

I would like to end this post with a rather long poem written by Richard Hendricks, an Irish priest, who posted this on Facebook a few days ago. It has inspired me, and I hope it will do the same for you. Until we meet again next week, I pray that we will all stay safe and remember and count our blessings.
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,


Linda Reeder said...

I read this poem previously and liked it too.
Every day I think about how fortunate I am. I have a loving partner to share my isolation, I have a lovely home full of comfort but also opportunities for communication and entertainment and the tools for creating. I have a garden to provide beauty and safe outdoor space and busyness. I have good health and financial security. All I have to do is avoid the virus.
Because of my abundance of good fortune, I am looking for the best way to help others. So far that has just been through financial donations to several charities - the Salvation Army and Northwest Harvest - in addition to my standard monthly donations. I am open to good recommendations.
It looks like we have another day of sunshine. Be well in it.

gigi-hawaii said...

I like your discussion about the compost and how warm the dark soil is. I really should get into gardening myself, but my poor back says otherwise.

Anvilcloud said...

I guess that's a fair vocabulary point.

So far we are managing a short daily stroll. My 20 minute exercise is only getting done every second day at the moment.

Linda Myers said...

Yes, it's crucial that we stay connected to people we care about, and that we stay kind to strangers. It could be that we bloggers can play a crucial role in this. We are together in every way but physically.

Linda Myers said...

Yes, it's crucial that we stay connected to people we care about, and that we stay kind to strangers. It could be that we bloggers can play a crucial role in this. We are together in every way but physically.

Mona McGinnis said...

DJAN, just to let you know that your blog post schedule is important to me. I look forward to reading your weekly post. You offer quiet encouragement. I, for one, am very thankful for that. I picture you and your dear companion sharing a cup of tea on your back porch as you look at your garden. Here in NE Alberta, there's still a lot of snow on the ground. The current temperature is -8C. Later today, I will sit on my porch in the afternoon sun and have a cup of tea day dreaming about crocuses & pussy willows. Take care.

Gigi said...

DJan - why don't you download Skype and ask your coffee buddies to do the same then you can all have coffee "together" from your own homes?

Yes, this is a really scary time. I firmly believe that things will be different when we come out of this...hopefully to a kinder, more empathetic place.

Stay safe, my friend.

Far Side of Fifty said...

We have to keep positive thoughts! For the moment we are safe for that I am thankful. It is a scary world out there, but we are all in this together! I pray for the best outcome and for God to take care of us all.
I have trouble with figuring out what day it is also, other than Thursdays they are all the same now for us.

I hope you have a great garden this year...I bet you have a plan already. Get some little yellow violas for one of your flower pots...ask if they have them and then smell them and you will be sold. What fun to think of getting outside in the warm soil! Did I mention it snowed last night? It is pretty it covered up the mud for the moment!

William Kendall said...

A wonderful poem.

I have decided to put a pause in my posts later this week.

Arkansas Patti said...

Love that poem. Interesting that our illness is actually helping our planet.
Blogging is very important these days. It is the only true way we can reach out and touch others with our thoughts and words with zero fear of contagion. I am taking it one day at a time. Each day we get through is one day closer to the end of this disease.

Elephant's Child said...

Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring are flowing your way.
I love that poem and am very, very grateful to you and to others who have posted it. Truth and kindness beautifully expressed.

Rian said...

It is strange times. Sheltering here at home does make you forget what day it is. One day runs into another. I almost totally forgot it was Sunday. I try to make a list on my iPhone of things I want to do the next day and then X them off. And another strange thing, I find myself 'being thankful that I had this day' each night when I go to bed...

Red said...

What I've noticed is that many bloggers are trying to pass on upbeat information as you've done today. Yes, we will get through this. Keep well and safe.

The Furry Gnome said...

Blogging has become has become more important to me too. Wonderful to have the connections when we can't go out.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

DJan I can almost feel you need to be out as it is your daily routine rain or shine. I hope all will be okay for you. You can get a lot of stuff online bother for exercise and reading and films. Good that you are able to get a garden ready. We have snow again tomorrow. All are family trips are cancelled but everyone is finding stuff to do. Sorting pics and decluttering is going to happen here. What happens once it is safe to be out is a huge mystery as many will be left jobless and possibly homeless yet again. Will we be able to travel? I will keep reading your posts as often as my eyes can bear the screen. Take care.

Marie Smith said...

We had to stop seeing the grandchildren in person since they have had interaction with others. It is hard not to be around them.

I love the poem. So true. I think these are the times which help us to know who we truly are. I always tell our grandchildren to be kind above all. I keep that in mind during this crisis.

Tabor said...

I do not have many more springs and I am sad that I will miss much of this one except for my woodlands. I miss my grandchldren. I miss my children. I am not a social animal, so I do not feel a need to visit those I know near me. I can visit bia phone and email. I get low and then talk myself out of it or read a wonderful blog post or two!

Rita said...

Absolutely loved that poem!!
You will be out gardening soon. I am plotting to start seedlings for my planters on the patio. I am glad you have some video exercise groups to kind of join. I assume you are practicing making coffee in your french press every day and reading up a storm. :)
I am so glad to have my people online, the people I write to, ones I call once in a while, the emailers and texters...everyone is a little more social, actually. Hearing from people sooner and more often. Physical distancing, yes...but social distancing, no.
Have a lovely week, my friend. We are blessed. :)

C-ingspots said...

Oh yes I too, love that poem! Beautiful inspirational words that offer both comfort and hope, with a perfectly measured amount of good sense. We are all in this together, this too, shall pass...and may we come out the other side, better and braver than before. Stay well and be blessed DJan. :)

Jackie said...

Sending love and prayers to you, my friend....

Dee said...

Dear DJan, the poem "Lockdown" has been, I think, a gift to all of us from Richard Hendricks in Ireland--we truly are a global community--the pandemic shows the dire side of that, the poem shows the redemptive side of it.

I so hope you will continue your Sunday postings as they touch the lives of so many of us with goodness and thoughtfulness--yoiur words always make me pause and ponder and reflect on the wonder and blessing of my life. I always feel grateful to you for sharing with us the depth of your embrace of life.

Take care. Those yoga videos you could watch seem like a good idea. I have a DVD for seniors that I'm using and it's being so helpful. Peace, pressed down and overflowing.