Tuesday, April 14 – Plant More Seeds

Sasha P, LUNENBURG, CANADA

Catapulting through life like the Velveteen Rabbit served me well this year. I’ve been out of the matrix for a while, radicalized by a laundry list of chronic illness diagnoses and (thanks to 2ish years of bed-rest) a lot of time to read. I am a woman, mother, wife, friend, and daughter. 

Together with my husband Chris, and our; two children, two cats, and a fish, we are quite the unit. Our home looks like a small tropical tree and plant nursery. 

Moving our family to the middle of nowhere, Nova Scotia has brought me great peace. We traded home ownership in the HRM for home ownership, in what feels like paradise for us. We must check our privilege, often.

Fast forward to now. We’re on day 38 of self-isolation. I woke up this morning with an underwhelming sense of dread. Am I desensitizing? Am I just tired? The numbers and the news aren’t surprising. The death toll climbs, and over a million have been infected (close to two now). Health workers don’t have enough personal protective equipment. 

I pour myself a cup of coffee. It smells better than delicious, but it comes from the city. A city where it is alleged, some are, and some aren’t, following the rules of isolating and distancing. I wonder what kind of coffee we will have access to when our specialty beans run out. I tell myself it doesn’t matter. I’m the same person who went camping and used my sock to filter the grinds. I’ll survive.

I repeat that to myself. “I’ll Survive.” Then, in the predictable way that anxiety smacks you like a bullet train, my anxious brain repeats back to me, “Will I survive?”

I’m only halfway through my morning medication when my husband emerges from his home office with a stack of printed paperwork. A glorious list of suggested activities from our 8 years old’s teacher. I want to do everything on that list and win the mother of all mother of the year awards— if only this soul-crushing existential dread and very disabled body would give me an inch to work with. 

The smiling face of our youngest gives me Herculean powers at this moment (that I will surely pay for tomorrow), and we start working on the first tasks until it’s time to make lunch. 

We usually follow a dairy-free, gluten-free, and low sugar diet, as recommended by the doctor who treats us (both kids and I). That has gone out the window a little bit as the grocery store shelves in our little township are slow to restock gluten-free options. I decide on mini pizzas and apple slices for the kids, and potato, bacon, and leek soup for Chris and I. 

The gentle smell of leeks and bacon cooking permeates the air. I literally lean into it. From my tall bar-style chair (dragged over) by the stove, I can make food for my family. I’m thankful for that. 

Food insecurity is a big trigger for me. I try not to think too far ahead, while making sure our seed crops are firmly implanted in seed cups, making their first gains in our indoor greenhouses, in steady anticipation of the gardens we grow with love in summer. 

Don’t burn the leeks. 

Those we explicit instructions from the one who imparted this recipe to me. So far, so good. I don’t know why I didn’t think of using bacon to sauté leeks before. In the back of my mind, the food insecurity monster sneaks back up on me. Will the food supply chains be broken?

All chains are meant to be broken; my inner child reminds me. Food security is still in our hands, in our relationship with animals and the soil around us, and in each other. If this soup turns out well, I pledge to give some to my neighbor to share the bounty. If it’s terrible, the chickens won’t mind at all. They’re some of my biggest fans when it comes to home cooking. They are the welcoming recipients of all of the table and kitchen scraps that are safe to feed to our beloved poultry. Of course, we also feed them plenty of regular chicken feed and oyster shells from the local farmer’s co-op, but as free-range chickens, they like to eat a bit of everything. 

A few days ago, Chris installed a camera inside our chicken coop so our son JP could look at and talk to our chickens more regularly. Today, he is still checking in, both my camera and in person. A full rain suit and a clear umbrella skipping happily across the lawn humming in anticipation of collecting the eggs and refilling their food and water. 

The leek soup is palatable. Whew! Thanks to an old friend, Heather, pressuring her husband to divulge his secret bacon-infused recipe, to me.

After lunch, JP and I take a short drive up to the community mailbox at the end of our street. It is usually populated with elderly neighbors lingering around having a nice chat. Today, it’s just us, and I am relieved. Not that relieved though. When I touch the mailbox my panic button goes off. I feel like I’ve just put my hands into a sharps container. I retreat with two packages that go in the back of the open van, and JP squirts a gigantic blob of hand sanitizer into my hands and all over the mail keys. This is our new normal. 

Our chief medical officer said recently, the province doesn’t have the funding to do any virus modeling quickly, so we don’t know how many Nova Scotians are ‘predicted to die yet.’ Seeing the news (CBC) coming out of Ontario is not promising. They have fancy modeling, and the best-case scenario says to expect between 3,000 and 15,000 deaths…or ‘morts’ as Chris and I have been calling them, so we don’t expose the children to too much collective grief. 

Grief hangs in my heart for the (at present, according to www.worldometers.info/coronavirus ) 119,587 people who have left the planet because of this virus. I grieve for the healthcare workers without proper PPE, and essential service workers who don’t get paid enough to put their lives in this type of jeopardy. 

I decide to plant more seeds.