So, Um, Yeah
I know you’re freaking out, because I am freaking out. We’re all freaking out. A little more or less, depending on time of day, amount of media consumed, number of dependents we’re supposed to home school, percent of productivity we’re expected to be at, etc, etc. There’s Coronovirus out there. Covid-19. Then there’s the shortages, at supermarkets, but also at the seed catalogs, the dog shelters (well, that’s OK, I guess), the gun stores (less OK…).
In these times of
uncertainty insanity blathering blatherskiting MADNESS, it’s the things we can’t control that add to our anxiety and increase depression. How do we counter the chaos and take back control? I suggest doing a few small things that make you feel safe and secure in this new, unsure world. Your home,computer, garden or windowsill are all perfect places to assert your power over things again.
Plant Quick-to-Harvest Greens
These are things you can plant now and see results in weeks, not months. They can grow on your counter top under lights or in a sunny windowsill. This is a quick win in a time when you need a boost of confidence. Tomatoes are nice and all, but when summer seems like a million Blursdays away, you just need something to eat that you grew NOW.
Microgreens and Lettuce are perfect for this. Sprouts will work, too, if you’re into that sort of thing. Since some seeds are hard to find right now due to the crazy uptick in people stuck at home, check your seed collection. Do you have older seeds from years past? Even if the germination rate isn’t great, it’s worth a try. And if that’s a bust, don’t forget your pantry. Did someone say ch-ch-ch-chia?
Remind Yourself that You Won’t Run out of Food
I’m going to make a wild guess that if you’re reading this website, you are not particularly food insecure in general. That means that aside from kicking yourself that you didn’t buy that second pack of canned tomatoes at Costco in late February (they were Hunt’s brand and not San Marzanos but they’d be really nice to have right now…), you must admit you’ve got a treasure trove of meals and snacks on hand for the coming weeks. Even if you didn’t go to store again or have food delivered, you and your family would be fine.
And, even if your fresh and frozen veggies and fruits ran out, and you seriously could not, would not go to the store (because Sam-I-Am kidnaps you?)–remember, you live in the SF Bay Area! You’d still be able to go outside and find fresh citrus on lemon, orange, and lime trees, as well as Vitamin C-rich Miner’s lettuce in shady spots throughout the region. There’s avocados on trees. Strawberries are coming into season. Infant plums are on the trees now. And that’s not even counting what you might be planting now, like brassicas and lettuce and spinach and peas.
And, if you’re still worried, get to work and lay down that emergency garden now. There’s still time, and you live in the best place in the world to grow food and it’s the best time to do it.
Take a Walk
Yeah, we need to shelter in place, in our hobbit holes, peering out nervously, but we also need to see the sun, and the green things, and smell the earth. Even if you just amble into your side yard and check on a few containers of seedlings, be sure to get that touch of sunlight. Seeing green things, smelling them (the jasmine and mock orange are blooming right now)–these are good for your mind to process. Life is happening around you–normal life, like it was before. Like it will again. Like it ever was.
Help Your Neighbors
Even if in the before-time you tried to avoid Social Media, get on Facebook or Next Door or whatever they use to see what’s going on with your neighborhood. Not only is staying connected with your community a great way to feel less isolated, it also gives you ways to help out–and helping makes you feel more in control. I myself gave away a bunch of seeds that I wasn’t going to use this season since I know it’s hard to buy this year. Seeds are cheap, and I have so many. It was easy to do, but so many people were so thankful.
Give In to Your (Non-Destructive) Impulses
Making sourdough starter from scratch? Sure! Working on your long-suffering post-apocalyptic novel you started in high school? This is the perfect time. Putting giant Muppet eyes on your broken garage door (see photo above)? Do it! If it makes you happy, or even if it just distracts you from things that don’t make you happy, do it. It’s a time to control your emotions with activities that take your concentration and focus. Bonus if they give your friends and family some happiness, a full belly, or even a giggle.
Kill Something (AKA Give In to Your Destructive Impulses)
Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you go full Mindhunter here. I mean kill something that you should kill. Like weeds in your garden. There’s something satisfying and calming about a good, honest fight to the death, you know? Especially one you know YOU, the human, will win. Like Fennel, which will put up a hell of a fight unless you catch a new plant right after a few days of heavy rain. Or Blackberry, which will give you some gnarly scars, especially if you don’t have protective gauntlets. Annoying mold or mildew patches in the house are also good for this kind of battle. How many rounds of spray-and-scrub will it take? Can your arm strength hold out?
The world around us may suck for a while yet, so I hope you can keep your hopes high and your plants green. If you have ideas for keeping your sanity in these strange times, please leave them in the comments below–I’d love to hear them!