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A world reimagined

When the lockdown came, we hunkered down. It was surreal, but we thought at first it would be over by summer. “This is just a bump in the road”, we said. Another time to

I baked more. We did virtual happy hour with friends and relatives we mostly hadn’t talked to in a while. I was perfectly prepared for my best garden. We survived, and I even wondered if humankind might improve from this experience.

My sourdough skills improved greatly, and I kept my workouts steady to ensure I would keep my form as the bread kept its form.

Hubby and I found that life hadn’t changed much for our personal time. Almost all of our friends and family live out of town so not seeing them was not unusual. We spent time together every day before the pandemic so we were good at that too. There was just no work, no way to share our passion for food other than leaving the odd care package on a neighbour’s doorstep, or sharing baked goods with the garden workers in the neighbouring fields.

Then we reached Phase 2. Summer was approaching and bookings for campgrounds opened up so that became our focus, in between tending the garden. A month later, in June, we were at Phase 3. In our region there hadn’t been any real cause for alarm, other than the shortage of toilet paper, pasta and flour.

Line-ups outside stores are still common. The one at Costco the first time we went took 50 minutes to get through.

The whole summer has gone by now. We camped 4 times. Despite Mother Nature reminding us all was not as before with excessive bugs, wind, rain and/or smoke (from fires thousands of miles away), we had fun. Our family philosophy of making the most of the moment played out well.

We spent lots of time enjoying the great outdoors.

But – and it’s a big but – the act of sharing food has changed. We cannot prepare our sumptuous BBQ buffets for events anymore – everyone touching the same utensils is too dangerous. Passing appetizers in a group is also not allowed, as it puts people and shared food in close proximity without barriers.

As we move indoors and the virus begins to spread faster again, social gatherings become a risky business. It’s nice to see people’s faces over Zoom, but seeing food and drink and not being able to share the sensory experience the same way is just plain old depressing.

My love for food was born out of learning what joy it brings to people when the come together for a meal. Now that our health officials are discouraging this practice, what do I do?

As I start to tidy the gardens for winter and harvest all our bounty, there is a new kind of melancholy in my soul. I always mourned the end of the growing season but this year my heart breaks as I consider the possibility that this lack of sharing could be the “new normal” people are talking about.

In the meantime, I shall keep preserving in preparation for a time when we can break bread safely together again.

I wish my pantry was big enough to fit jars like this; I will content myself with the flavours we have and share as much as I can.

Soggy Dogs and Mucky Boots Call for Wine

I’m sorry to be a complainer but I hit the wall today. Not once but twice I walked with Ella in the pouring rain. This was no pitter patter, it was a steady downpour. The ground was already waterlogged so there were rivulets and puddles in the mud. Even the birds took most of today off, not chirping their usual spring notes. My gumboots worked overtime. In short, it was a miserable day.

Ella is the best companion in the rain. With a fur coat like that, she doesn’t care if it’s wet. The rain really does run off her coat like water off a duck’s back (they don’t call Labradors water dogs for nothing). Not only that, but the wet weather seems to make all the smells in the field even stronger. She trots around our usual route with an extra skip in her step, like someone turned up the volume. She was definitely soggy by the time we got home, though.

Simon, our other dog, is not so keen to be in the rain, especially at the grand old age of 14. His hair is shorter than Ella’s so he gets cold, but he has never been keen to listen to me. As a result, he’s torn between just going out for a moment and wandering off into the field alone. His compromise is usually to dash out and wander back at a good pace, but not before finding a really mucky spot.

can you tell how much mud is stuck between those toes? It’s like gumbo!

Usually Ella’s good temperament can win me over, but a second soaking in the afternoon was past my limit. As I muttered my way along the only thing that kept me going was the thought of spending the evening with another liquid.

Piccini FIasco – a tasty Chianti (“fiasco” is actually the name of a straw-covered bottle)

I can highly recommend this remedy. An evening with neighbours having a couple of glasses of wine and sharing homemade pizza was just what the doctor ordered. By the time I got home a couple of hours later, the rain had stopped and the skies had cleared, and not just in my head. There were even stars in the sky as I let the dogs out for an evening stretch.

Forget the fact that most of the neighbours were too young to know what I meant by “pizza wine” when I brought what I thought was a ubiquitous bottle. They were intrigued when I told them it would look great with a candle burning in it. We all toasted to everyone’s good health, and I felt not nearly so soggy.

Tomorrow will be a new day.

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