Is it wrong to enjoy these strange times?

Daffodils at Inverness Castle on my #onewalk one evening this week

Is it wrong to be enjoying these strange times?

I know. Many of us are or have been ill, many are at risk and already too many have died. Lots of people are extremely worried about their own health and the health of the people they care about.

Despite the measures put in place to help businesses, employees and the self-employed, many businesses and sole traders will not survive the pandemic. Finances are, and will be, tight – too tight for some.

And while it’s too easy to say that furloughed employees ‘have it easy’ with 80% of their salary being paid by the government, yet clear instructions not to work, many will miss the sense of purpose, pride and achievement that comes from doing a job we love. It’s hard to make up that through Netflix, Doritos and duvet days. Goodness – three weeks ago none of us had ever heard the word furlough; now we throw it into conversation as casually as we’d use ‘night out’ or ‘swimming’.

And there are practical hurdles to overcome; how to arrange shopping for self-isolating relatives across the country when there are no delivery slots available; how to get a daughter’s laptop quickly fixed when it dies a fortnight before her exams start.

Is my mood radar faulty in its swing towards optimism?

We’ve not seen our friends and our freedoms have been curtailed. But despite all that, is anyone else secretly enjoying it? Or is my mood radar faulty in its swing towards optimism? I’m used to living alone and working from home, so having company in the house is a delight. Mr Marr is home (he has stolen my office chair for his dining room set-up) and Daughter #2 is home from Glasgow, studying for her Masters’ exams (albeit now without her lecture notes). My own workload has almost completely dried up – both a cause for concern and a relief, because frankly, I’ve not been very well.

A chat with my GP as this whole thing was kicking off in the UK meant a telephone diagnosis of ‘probable positive for Covid-19’ and a prescription for oral steroids and antibiotics (I’m asthmatic). With good friends to collect shopping, prescriptions and more, we self-isolated. From Monday I’ve been allowed blinkingly back into the fresh air for my daily #onewalk. The streets are quiet, the birdsong seems louder and the daffodils by Inverness Castle seem brighter in their optimism than ever before.

I’m guessing I’ve had this ghastly thing

My guess is that I’ve had this virus. It’s not been a barrel of laughs, but it’s not been desperate either – if this really was Covid-19 and not my ‘usual’ seasonal chesty/flu struggles, I’ve had it lightly. But until there is an antibody test that proves I’ve had it so can’t either catch it again or pass it to someone else, I’m continuing to follow the rules.

As I’ve gradually recovered from my symptoms, I have realised that I am content with the changes that have been imposed on us. Terry Waite, kept as a hostage for 1763 days, has asked that we change our mindset. We are not stuck at home, but safe at home. With food, Netflix, central heating and a million communication devices, we have it relatively easy.

Five things I have realised

I have also realised five things about myself. Bear with me while I share them with you.

First: I love cooking and baking, but – more than that – I love watching my family eat the food I’ve loved cooking. With deliveries and collections of quality produce from Williamson Food Service, Swansons Food, Inverness Coffee Roasting Company and A&I Quality Butchers, my fridge, freezer and cupboards are well-stocked. Supermarkets will survive this without me – I’m doing what I can to support local businesses and plan to continue once we reach whatever ‘new normal’ awaits us on the other side.

Second: Few things make me smile more than watching the seeds that I’ve planted beginning to pop through the soil. With advice from Highland Seeds I planted some marrowfat peas in a shallow tray – if all goes well, we could be eating fresh pea shoots by the end of the month. Even better, basil seeds with an expiry date of 2012 are defying the calendar by searching for the light.

Third: I am terrible at knitting. On a whim in January I bought wool and a beginner’s pattern for socks, but while I seem to have managed to turn the heel quite well, the sock that is emerging (agonisingly slowly) from my needles is more likely to fit The Statue of Liberty than it is to fit me. I’m persevering, though – it might make a roomy Christmas stocking for someone…

Fourth: All that tidying I thought I would do when I had the time? It turns out that it wasn’t time I’m short of, but motivation.

Our three efforts at Origami Snoopy…

Fifth: In the face of a ‘spend no money’ instruction for Mr Marr’s birthday yesterday I surprised myself with my creativity. His card was made by sewing wool through holes I pricked in the (washed!) gold cardboard that came with the butcher’s bacon; his present was a DIY origami kit to make Snoopy and his House. The roast chicken birthday dinner came after online ‘surprise’ drinks with friends in Edinburgh.

Shortening Horizons

My plan is to get through this period by shortening my horizons, keeping in touch with those I love and creatively cooking for my family. We have all cried and shouted this week, but we’ve laughed a lot too. I miss Daughter #1 who is still working in Glasgow more than I can say, but we speak and/or message daily, which is lovely.

As we adjust to this new normal, anything goes. Except going out. Stay safe, stay and home and stay in touch with those you love. And try and stay sane, although I do know we can’t have everything…

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