Greetings all of you ‘Covidiens’. How are you doing with your respective lives in isolation? Here in our little piece of East Coast paradise we are coping quite nicely, thank you. It’s certainly not perfect but we are beginning to see a tiny bit of light on our horizon….beautiful welcoming orange morning light.
Francois has found a new passion. Torching stuff. He builds it then he burns it. It’s an ancient Japanese method of treating wood called shou-sugi-ban to preserve wood by scorching the cuticle of the wood to seal and protect it. For a brief video of his method click here IMG_1331.
He built a lovely bridge to span the incoming stream at Duck Pond and finished it with this method. Burning with a propane torch then lovingly rubbing every square inch of it with linseed oil. The process became a neighbourhood curiosity. One neighbour dropped by (socially distanced of course) and ask what the heck he was doing. She had been watching the build process from her home across the road but when the propane tank and torch came out her curiosity got the better of her.
Bridge over Calm Waters
One early morning, I looked out our bedroom window and saw our friend Fred perched on the bridge, bright red umbrella and fishing pole in hand. He’s quite a quirky character, always bringing a smile.
Old Becomes New Again
Francois also used the same burning method on our outdoor furniture transforming each piece from Ikea tan to rich Asian black tea. Quite a striking difference!
My daughter and son-in-law, loved the bridge so much that they asked if Francois could build one for them too. She ordered the materials, had them delivered and paid for his services with virtual hugs and free beer. Not a bad deal.
For Hugs and Beer
Speaking of hugs, Mother’s Day came and went. My daughter parked down the lane near the shore so we wouldn’t see her car, then the three of them toddled up the hill. Her four-year-old asked if he wore his mask and held his breath, could he give Gramma a hug. However heart-breaking, the answer was ‘no’ but I will remember the moment forever.
Mother’s Day Surprise
Nature continues on its spring journey oblivious to what’s happening in the world. Grass is green and lush. Birds are choosing partners and homes for their future families. Swallow Condo has at least three tenants now and from time to time we can see little heads poking out. I love sitting on the deck with my early morning coffee watching them dance and soar, listening to their happy song.
Francois has started a relocation program for some of our visitors. Monsieur and Madame Marmotte (our groundhog couple) are now several kilometres away, repositioned in a much less populated area. And Rocky Racoon and his Missus – the true Covid mascots, with masks and incessant hand-washing – have been deposited deep in the forest as well.
Our gardens too have come to life. The tulips Francois planted last fall are in their full glory. The seventy-five bulbs from Holland commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Netherlands’ liberation following the end of World War II….a sea of beautiful orange blossoms.
We both are enjoying our Crow’s Nest, planting seeds and watching them poke through the soil in the heat of the day. In the past I’ve bought seedlings from local green houses but with so many restrictions in place this year we’ve opted for online/no-contact seed and other supply buying from a company in Halifax. Mostly everything grew, surprisingly, considering it was our first time gardening on this scale.
Francois was quite proud to pose for you in the warmth of the ‘shed’ holding a flat of healthy greens for Naked Gardening Day.
My (almost) Naked Gardener
Four weeks ago Nova Scotia entered phase one of loosening restrictions. We celebrated with lobster, cooked and prepared at the world famous Shore Club. Paid in advance and pick-up time-slot assigned, deliciousness placed contact-free in the trunk of our car. Each year they host a Mother’s Day Celebration with a seafood feast. Three seatings, each sold out well in advance…but these are not normal times and we were more than happy to support their modified event in the comfort of our own home
Shore Club Lobster
The best part of this phase-one of isolation relaxing was the hugs. Hugs upon hugs upon a million hugs. A day spent with our ‘bubble’ family…and those million hugs…was the best therapy I could ever have asked for.
How to Calm a Wildling
Now that our provincial beaches are open I can begin to make use of my birthday gift. I’m not very stable yet so the 14 knot cross winds made me nervous….yes, she who has no problem heeling at 30 degrees in a storm can’t handle a puff of wind in a few feet of water. I will persist. Francois was a champion though. Even a tumble into the frigid water didn’t phase his at all.
Sad little RED sits patiently in the driveway, winter cover removed, waiting for whatever summer months might bring. We’re not sure when she will be splashed but lobster season is now over in our south shore area with traps removed so it might be soon. I remain hopeful.
So now you are up to date. As you can see our ‘day to day’ is not quite so ‘day to day’ as the ‘groundhog day effect’ might suggest. There is more than enough variety to bring us pleasure. We’re loving the simpler slower pared down version of our previous life and hope its continues. The other day, Francois mused that after isolation is lifted he would like us to remain isolated. Some things may have to change in order for that to happen – like being able to say ‘no’ more often. But we have time yet to work on that.
Thanks for stopping by. We love it when you do, keeping connected in this rather disconnected way.
Red Sky in Morning
It really is a storm isn’t it, this cursed virus that has descended on the world? No wonder words that describe it are storm related….tsunami …..the next wave…dark clouds ahead..the surge….hunkering down. I actually much prefer the storm analogy to the war zone descriptions though. It’s more positive believing that our collective sun will emerge from behind the clouds someday. We’ve all seen storms throughout our lives…or rather been through storms… in one form or another. Personal storms too. We came out better for it and we can weather this one.
For us here at RED by the Sea, aside from the obvious, like the physical isolation, our lives haven’t changed that much. Retirement has given us a framework for surviving this new reality…but I do believe when this is all but a memory there will be a new global reality. Attitudes, habits, routines with be forever altered. Change is hard though for some. My daughter pointed out that our generation has habits so engrained that we may be the most resistant to change. That may be so, but I personally think we are adapting very well under the circumstances. Francois’ forty years of military training had us focussing first on threat assessment and security. What do we need to get through this physically? The tough soldier attitude perhaps doesn’t address the emotional needs but he has me to help with that one.
I chuckle to myself seeing friends’ social media posts. You know who you are. First day of isolation and all organized with to do lists and by the end of week one, diving into a tub of ice cream still wearing the same pyjamas for the seventh day in a row. Oh, maybe that was me. Ha-ha! I like the race analogy from an article I read recently, that if you treat this like a sprint and don’t pace yourself you’ll be the one at the finish line vomiting on your shoes. So the message here is to go ahead and prepare for the worst and when you’ve taken care of that, simply ‘be’. Someday this will be over.
Because of our fairly minimal lifestyle we already had an edge up on managing the day to day. We maintain what we have and keep things running in good order. The simpler the better and I fully believe the more complex, the more bells and whistles, the more that can go wrong. It just makes sense on so many levels to keep it simple. And the more we can handle ourselves, the more autonomous we can be when needed. We’ve even streamlined paying taxes doing everything ourselves online saving hundreds of dollars in the process.
“It is no bad thing celebrating a simple life.” ~ JRR Tolkien
Since moving here we have become entrenched in buying locally whenever possible and the current situation has given us no reason to change. Many businesses have adapted by offering online services with no-human-contact pick-up.
Clean hands and garden supplies
With the recent run on hand sanitizer a local distillery offered their own brand of denatured alcohol and our favourite garden centre has adapted their retail operation to car pick-up only. No human contact necessary. With the Crow’s Nest in full swing, I can get a good start on our vegetable garden.
For me the physical distancing is the hardest…not being able to give Gramma hugs. Video chats have become common place with the occasional window drawings and through-the-glass-kisses. My three-year old grand-daughter took the initiative because she wanted to show Gramma her doll family and called me on her tablet. What, I wonder, was I doing at that age? How the world has changed! We even had a wonderful ‘visit’ with Francois’ daughter the other day. She, her husband and three kids are doing quite well in Rome.
Window art and smooshy kisses
My son Luke lives in a small options home with staff and 3 other residents and the latest restrictions mean we can’t visit nor is he allowed to come visit us. Also he is on a medication that compromises his immune system so everyone has to be extra careful – especially now. So far he seems to understand and one of the staff sets up video calls which warms my momma heart. I worry about him longer term since there can be no trips to the country to break up his routine until this crisis has passed but we’re taking it day to day.
Sweet Child of Mine
I spend a good deal of time in the kitchen these days, more than usual, making basics like granola and breads. My pantry is usually well stocked but there may be a time soon when staples like flour and yeast are in limited quantities.
Planning ahead I think I have worked out a system where we won’t need to go to the store at all. When supplies get low there are meal delivery services. Whole dinners, chopped and portioned so all we have to do is decide which bag to pull from the refrigerator, add a little cooking time and voilà!
This time of year there isn’t a lot of fresh green available so things like root vegetables…shelf stable carrots, sweet potatoes and celeriac are our go to choices. I can rustle up a very fine meal with a couple of taters, some lentils and a drizzle of tahini sauce in no time. And thirty minutes in the pressure cooker gives us many meals from that happy-free-range chicken that I had stashed away in the freezer.
There is also farm delivery service where we can order pretty much anything from baked goods, veggies and fruits, meats, honey, even cut flowers, fully prepared meals and artisan creations, all delivered weekly to a location near us. We have fresh caught fish and seafood delivered when needed. I buy ten pounds at a time and stash it away in the freezer. During lobster season I can walk down the road to buy a freshly caught crustacean or two straight off the boat for an occasional treat. Actually these are all the things we have been doing since moving to the country, supporting local businesses as much as possible. So you see, not a lot has changed for us. Hell, even the liquor store delivers.
Now that our movements into the community have been further restricted, I’ve sought out entertainment options…because after a while TV binging becomes dull. Our regional library offers online services like downloadable movies, ebooks and audio books. I’ve read more books in the past two weeks that I have in the last two years.
We miss our weekly gathering of friends, lovingly known as the Hubbards Hooligans, at the village coffee shop so now some of us gather virtually instead, to check in and catch up. One of the Hooligans even dropped off home-made masks, kindly left on our door knob. Humour can be strong medicine.
Some Hubbards Hooligans
So there you are, all up to date. Thanks for dropping by. It warms our hearts to know you are there. From our little RED by the SEA, we wish you strength and safe passage through to the end of the storm.
Post Script: For you bird fans, this year’s couple, Dr. and Mrs. Mallard, presented themselves at Duck Pond last week. And unlike some humans, they didn’t need to be told about physical distancing. The dozens of ducks that once inhabited the pond – nowhere in site.
Doctor and the Misses