The pandemic has demanded many changes in our life. If we can’t go to work or to school we have to stay at home. The New York Times has read the zeitgeist and created a new section for their Sunday edition titled At Home. The large front page image has a child playing on the floor with his toys, while mom sits at a table thoughtfully putting together a jigsaw puzzle while another member of the household is lounging with a book.
The NYTimes mentions a new phrase “quarantine fatigue,’ caused by the pandemic. Their new section is to help us handle quarantine fatigue. There are instructions for games like the Paperback Game for the family, suggestions about great movies now available on TV, ways to spruce up your home office, and if you didn’t have a home office before, you probably do now. There is a list of short books so you can lounge and read all day and come to the dénouement before supper when someone in the family has provided a simple supper via suggested simple recipes.
I am thinking one of the most popular suggestions will be How to Stock Your Own Bar. Three recipes complete the column and I am wondering whether curbside delivery at our local liquor stores will include even more recipes.
This At Home section with graphics showed people relaxing. How do people pull that off?
Here’s what’s going on at our house. Zoom meetings. Community projects need new ways of continuing. Emails from dear friends near and far are checking in. We love those and return our love and news. On-line exercise class continues from the Y. Thank you, Ann! You’ll notice I’ve not even mentioned the routine tasks, housecleaning, cooking three meals a day, and the laundry.
But at this time of the year we are spending a lot of our time out in the garden. Somehow there are always new plants to buy. This year we ordered new shrub roses from Antique Rose Emporium, online, to create a short Rose Walk that will remind us of the Heath Rose Walk. I can’t wait to see Imogen, creamy yellow, and the Lady of Shallot, striking apricot-yellow, in bloom. Besides planting new roses, I’ve been pruning and weeding everywhere.
I spent a lot of time going around looking at the swelling clumps of greenery and wondering what they are. Fortunately some readers have been knowledgeable and helpful. This year I will make a really good list of plant names and locations.
The big excitement is a vegetable garden. We did grow a few vegetables in Heath along with our blueberry and raspberry patches, but we have never considered our Greenfield garden, otherwise known as The Swamp, as suitable for growing vegetables. The pandemic pushed our imaginations and we now have a fenced in plot, 10 by 8 feet. It is small, but I also have fabric Smart Pots and large garden pots.
This spring we again ordered four yards of compo-soil from Martin’s Farm. We have needed these many, many yards of good soil to create raised beds for our plantings. I talk about water-loving plants, but we suspected there is a limit to how much and how long they can live in water. Every year we raise the beds a little higher which also makes the plantings more attractive.
We used some of the compo-soil for the vegetable garden. We also added our own finished compost swarming with worms. The narrow path is covered with wood chips that we no longer needed.
We were lucky to have various sizes of chicken wire in our shed. Some was used for climbing peas and some was used as a low fence, with our hopes of keep the squirrels and occasional rabbits out of the garden.
Limited by space, I had to choose my vegetables closely. I planted mesclun, a mixture of young lettuces, rainbow chard, Ronde zucchini, peas, French breakfast radishes, and two types of small beets in red and gold. I’ll plant pole beans soon. I will also buy tomato starts that can grow in the Smart Pots, and lettuce in the planter pots. I am already dreaming of picking my own lunch salads, and my own chard for summer tian lunches.
I am so glad we can buy plant starts at the Farmer’s Market. We walked the walk on Saturday and washed our hands properly before visiting the different farmers. I bought one cherry tomato plant, and two flats of flat and curly parsley. We cannot live without parsley and have a small herb garden right by the side door. My tiny patches of permanent herbs are thyme, chives, lemon balm, sage, mint and oregano. I still need to get some basil.
I hope the NYTimes steps out into the garden and suggests ways we can find interesting ways there to amuse and educate ourselves during these pandemic days.
At the same time I do thank the NYTimes for their At Home section and the new Puzzle section. The 48 puzzles and brainteasers will help us keep our brains operational in these days of pandemic. I confess that housework has never had that much appeal, and if it slips a little more than usual, my husband and I will never notice. We’ll be out in the garden.
Between the Rows May 8, 2020