Six Month Anniversary

It’s eerie to hear the fog horns and not know if the lack of visibility is due to just the smoke of if there is fog too. I picture the ship captain standing next to the SF Bar Pilot who would have climbed aboard before the were hit by the waters below Golden Gate Bridge. Only local pilots can navigate the world’s largest ships around San Francisco Bay to Oakland, Richmond, and beyond, over to San Pablo Bay, Suisun Bay and all the way out to Stockton or up the river to Sacramento.

The captains must be glad they are just passing through. Next stop Hawaii, Japan, or China. Cleaner, clearer air anywhere else.

The cat woke me up at 5:30 and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I checked the smoke map and confirmed the air quality made outside exercise a health risk. No walk today. That doesn’t mean that no moving is allowed. Failing at getting back to sleep by six, I went to the kitchen, put on the coffee, and started assembling the ingredients for Irish soda bread. This morning the dough was communicating with me through my hands. It felt alive. These may be the best loaves ever.

I was thinking about what is new in my life these last six months I’ve been sheltering in place. Previously, my baking was limited to making blueberry muffins once or twice a month. Now I’ve made rustic tarts – apricot/ginger, plum/ginger, blueberry, pear, cherry, and just this week, my second peach with a secret ingredient of orange zest. With the fruit from our apricot and plum trees, I’ve also made chutneys, and dried some of the apricots – I ate the last two of those just this week.

We bought two raised beds, and impatient, as usual, didn’t want to wait for seeds to sprout so bought lettuce plants to fill them. When those started going to seed, I ordered several seed packet’s from Renee’s Garden and planted those. We’ve had salads galore. Another week or so and I’ll need to replant. As for the blueberry bushes, I’ve printed out how they should be pruned in the winter so they will flourish. I used to just look at the garden as I was too busy to spend time tending to it. Commuting ate up hours. Now I’m the chief gardener – not that I have much experience – but I have grown lettuce before, and tomatoes, when I lived in Maine and had a plot at the Falmouth Audubon Society, and for a few summers, grew lettuce in planters at our weekend place up in Calistoga, since sold.

On the lower level of this garden, there are 9 or 10 rose bushes which have been neglected. Given their sad state, I did figure out I needed to buy food for them and I fed them last weekend. The only thing I previously knew about roses was they should be pruned to hip level and all leaves removed each February. I read that one year in the Calistoga Tribune when we were in town for the weekend. We didn’t have any rose plants back then.

My virtual yoga classes- introduction to Iyengar – are offered twice a week. Thursday is yin and Tuesday, it’s something different, I guess it must be yang? The teacher has recorded some of the sessions and gave me the link so I can practice more often but I haven’t gotten around to that yet. Maybe later today?

Then there’s Penny Nixon, the Reverend. Sunday morning we used to go to water yoga classes but those were discontinued, hopefully just temporarily. These months, many Sunday mornings, we tune in to the livestream service from the Congregational Church of San Mateo and listen to Penny’s sermon. We are an Episcopalian (sort of lapsed) and a Roman Catholic who status I don’t dare to guess. I once referred to my father as a former Catholic and he said “don’t say that! That means I’ve been excommunicated.” I leave the Catholics to define their own status.

While the Facebook live stream runs, maybe we listen to the lessons or maybe we go into the kitchen and make some toast. If Penny’s preaching, we try not to miss a word. She’s very inspiring. She says this year “we have been pressed into a crucible and we do not yet know how we will change – but be assured, we will not be the same.”

That may be the only sure thing about 2020.

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