How to keep busy…

Warning from the local Great Blue Heron should have been my first clue that we were heading towards another limited lockdown.

This Blue Heron was going on like this for a good while before I pulled out my phone and captured his alert.

After my return from the United States I was finally starting to feel like we were returning to some pre-COVID normal here in The Netherlands.

I was off to my volunteer job at the Historic Gardens at Aalsmeer every Friday. Taking the bus from my house each time and pushing down some anxiety the bus was full of wall to wall people riding to and from their daily jobs. Masks were still mandatory in the public transport, and the Dutch (who don’t normally chat on public transport) seemed liberated after so long of being sequestered at home, passengers chatted with everyone. On once such bus ride I chatted with a lady who works at the airport who was going back to her sales job for the first time in a year and half. She told me she was nervous but happy that she still had a job. I felt the same way about my volunteer job!

Fall at the Historic Garden in Aalsmeer.

Never a lack of work at the Historic Garden, I was put to work weeding, planting and separating plants for the next season. I always doubt my abilities of my work as I am surrounded by giants of the plant industry. Mostly men who owned and worked the soil of the Aalsmeer plant industry for years before retirement. Now volunteering their skill sets to the preservation of old horticultural skills. I look forward to learning so much each day I volunteer.

One of the fall plantings I was in trusted to plant.
Notice the difference in the piles… the inexperienced volunteer pile I created, is on the left.

The thing I realize each time I volunteer is that work, hard manual work is how humans existed for centuries before the modern age. That those skills are being lost with each passing day when those skills are not learned by generations who have only grown up in the modern age, in front of a computer or TV.

Then COVID hit here once again knocking us all back into a limited lockdown. We are all strongly encouraged to work from home, limit our social contacts, wear a mask everywhere again.

I know that COVID has been hard for most people. The mental anguish for most people of not being able to gather with family and friends at any given moment is difficult.

But, maybe it was a message from Mother Earth that we all needed. That our 24/7/365 world is not sustainable.

What to do with all this time now that we have been given? Here it is three weeks. 3 December, if anyone is keeping exact track of the timeline for this current outbreak.

I am thankful in many ways of my agricultural roots I grew up with. In times of distress on a farm, you just pick up and keep going. Life and death is part of the farm cycle. The change of seasons and the hard work that continues. I never remember having much time to sit and worry about what was next. Heaven forbid if we as children uttered the “I am bored…” words as we instantly found ourselves not bored doing some really crappy task.

One of my Dutch friends thinks I grew up like Laura Ingalls Wilder, she isn’t far from the truth. No running indoor water or toilet with only wood heat for the house. The one thing Laura Ingalls didn’t have was over 100 head of sheep to care for during the year. The year long work even in the -40 temps of Northern Minnesota! Plus, I don’t ever remember Laura Ingalls being told to go clean the crap in the barn due to the fact that she was bored.

When the government announced our lockdown again due to the explosion of COVID cases I pulled out one of my old skill sets I learned as a young person, spinning. Filling my days with making wool yarn with the ancient drop spindle.

The drop spindle

The result was something I can feel and see with my own hands. A sense of accomplishment in the world of COVID chaos.

A small skein of hand spun natural wool yarn.

Not a huge accomplishment. It won’t replace the joy I get in volunteering at the Historic Garden, but it is a good filler for the time I now have to stay at home.

I hope that each of my readers are also finding ways to move forward in all this chaos.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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