A pandemic year: I’ve alternated from being horrified, angry and fearful, contemplative and creative, lonely and sad. As we've been alone and quiet for days on end, introspection has also lead to appreciation. I’m grateful for my marriage and partner in life (this is our 50th year) and we are still learning about each other, finding ways to improve our relationship.
Not being able to visit family and friends, children and grandchildren, I turned to my garden. I’ve always enjoyed growing flowers. It was a source of pride to put fresh arrangements in the studio for our guests. Now with no guests, I decided to convert flower beds to vegetable gardens. It’s been a pioneer year, with planting in soil that has not been improved in decades, seeds planted in pots of all shapes and sizes, hand crafted plant stakes from twigs to pipes and almost anything around to prop them up; it was quite fun. We harvested multiple kinds of squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets and onions. I tried pickling, roasting and freezing. Some were successful, some not. More importantly, I felt like I was doing something positive that felt creative and gave me a focus. Every morning, I grabbed my coffee cup and strolled the garden on a little tour to check on my ‘babies’. It’s silly, I know, but it gave me joy.
Underlying all activity was the constant concern about our future, as a couple, a family, an organization and a world. As months passed, I worried about other hosts and how they were faring. We learned about short and long term effects of grief, isolation and loneliness. I had canceled our host meetup in March. In April, with cancellations and closings coming in from everywhere, I was talking to our board about pausing our Host2Host organization completely.. But we soon realized that this is a time when our community is needed the most. So we pivoted our monthly meetups to Zoom and we have not missed one since. In fact, we are celebrating over 80 host meetups since we began! To further support our hosts, we created a weekly virtual Host Coffee. We have no agenda for these meetings, and we talk about whatever is on our minds. Sometimes our conversations are host-related and often we simply share (sometimes tearfully) feelings about our life situations. The conversations have been remarkably nurturing, some folks have told us this is their main form of connection to the outside world. We are committed to continue the host coffees as long as people come, and are now opening them up to nonmembers. I invite you to participate if you are interested.
During the pandemic, my concept of my identity has been challenged. I’m learning more about who I am and who I am not. Gardening, my husband and my organization have helped to give me direction. Now, with a vaccine in sight, I feel it’s okay to get hopeful again. Planning to travel brings a lightness of spirit. I’m thinking about how I can refresh our listings, realign our niche marketing, update listing descriptions and more in preparation for future guests. It’s wonderful to be alive and feel excitement about travel and future new experiences in a world where we know we can safely be together again! We held our host ‘Bon Voyage to 2020’ party virtually this week and it was great fun to laugh and be happy. Although the we are still not meeting physically, the joy we expressed together holds us in anticipation of much better times. I just got word that the vaccine will arrive in our part of the world next week!
Thank you for this opportunity to connect and share with all of you. I have enjoyed reading your posts, and I hope that you too are beginning to feel revived and hopeful. Here are a couple of pictures from my garden.
Best wishes for safe and happy Holidays to you all.
Many positive thoughts and wishes coming your way @Debi1 !
It definitely has been a year to remember AND parts of it to forget! But to forget, wouldn’t honour the pain, grief, anxiety, stresses and trauma that came from within this year......
But there are blessings in the sandstorms and blizzards of this pandemic.... for realigning what is important for self, family and the wider community can be nothing but a positive. 🌈
I must say, you sound like you had better luck with your pioneering vegetable garden, then Garry and I. Our bounty was minimal, but a start! The few guests we had were happy to see a veggie and herb patch, so let’s wait till Easter when we can replant again!
Thank you @Cathie19! I think it's the fun and creativity that is SO much positive feel-goods about gardening. I, too am looking forward to a prettier and more prolific garden this next year. Youtube videos helped a LOT! I love that the internet continue to educate in any direction one has interest in!
@Debi1 How lovely to see another person loving their garden,
Have you been mixing coffee grounds and your compost scraps into the soil?
The worms love it as do the birds scratching away for insects to eat.
Do you have any photographs as they appear to not have uploaded.
Maybe @Katie can assist if you need it.
All the best
Thanks for the uplifting post. The pandemic has given many people to introspect and look within...and more often than not, this has brought about positive change in most.
Best wishes to you and yours. Good luck with the gardening as well.
Thank you Jason! I do believe you are right. I hope the forced introspection will make for an intentionally helpful and supportive new year for us all!
Thanks so much for sharing @Debi1 - it sounds like you've done a stellar job of supporting your fellow hosts, and 80 meetups is an amazing milestone in such a relatively short time!
I would love to see some pics of your veggies too, which did you find easiest to grow? 🍅
Thank you @Katie . What I really loved was watching my seedlings sprout. Watching a new little plant emerge then nurturing it to the planting-in-the-garden stage was incredibly satisfying. With no where to go, I was not distracted from caring for them, either. In the growing/harvesting phase what I particularly enjoyed were (for me) new crops. My first butternut squash and Japanese cucumbers were delightful.
Wow, what a fantastic crop @Debi1! I have grown a few herbs over the past year, and I agree that it's really exciting to see the seedling coming up and starting to grow.
I bet you had to think of some extra recipes to use all those squash!
@Debi1 , thanks for the posting, so much that you speak rings true to most of us. All those that have said "The End is near!" for the last decades are now correct, not of the earth but of this virus that has wreaked havoc on everyone's lives and ended way too many along the way. God has blessed us all with multiple safe and effective injectable solutions that will make this demon powerless at a speed that has never been in the history of Pandemics. We need to do our part now and hold out our arm when available and become part of the solution. The sooner the better, be well, JR
@Debi1 I love this so much! It's as simple as this: We can't control the pandemic. So we can whine and complain about what we can't do. Or, we can do something different and see what brings us joy. The time is going to pass either way.
So are you going to continue with the vegetable garden? Or will you return to flower beds?
@Suzanne302, I could not have said it better! I still have a tendency to 'shut down' periodically especially now that it's dark and rainy, but this last summer gardening was a healing activity. To answer your question, I have already ordered my seeds for next year, and intend to incorporate many vegetable among the flowers! I think I'm hooked!