Our winters are not severe, although they are tough for many people and we all look forward to warmer days. Where most of us live here, we’re not knee-deep in snow or suffering through long dark days and months, as in Scandinavia where they suffer consequent mental health issues – perhaps why Sweden hesitated to impose an early lockdown when spring had just begun.
Today there is a frost but, as the pattern goes, it is followed by warm sun. There is something to appreciate, even on a dull day. Yesterday was cloudy and cold, so we lit the fire earlier than usual, ate kumara soup and read our books. Outside the weather went from cloudy to stormy to rain with a bit of ice in it, to clear and even a bit of watery sun in the late afternoon.
I appreciate the warmth of thick woollen clothing which I couldn’t bear the thought of wearing in summer. My wool duvet, wool pillows and wool mattress cover are fabulous in winter – and summer (with one less layer of duvet). I am able to wash and hang my woolly socks and merino tops outside on the line – especially on a day like today.
Thank goodness that we are able to socialise (let’s hope it lasts). Meals out, card games and walks are great to keep my spirits up and keep me connected with friends. And between-times there’s blogging, emails, texts and phone calls – and, maybe, delightful news. Speaking of news, there’s always something thought-provoking in the daily newspaper I collect from the gate each morning.
Our Christchurch City Libraries are perhaps the best thing about our city. They are a connection point for everyone and a warm place in winter. There’s something magical about coming home with a pile of books. Walking home from the library last week, I was delighted to see the Town Hall fountain working again. I sat and enjoyed it for a while.
Over the last couple of months I have found myself taking the odd photo of something cheering. Here are some creative delights I’m enjoying this winter.
The garden is a changing source of delight.
Winter delights show me that there’s always something cheering in the cold, dark and dreariness, particularly as I have the luxury of time to appreciate it.
In the late afternoon, there’s the possibility of a contemplative winter cocktail and The Panel on National Radio.
Do you have an internal or external locus? A psychology article in the last (sob) Listener says: “An internal locus means you tend to see events as controllable, whereas an external locus means you see yourself awash in a sea directed by fate and outside factors.” While the writer, Marc Wilson, concedes that most of us fall somewhere between these two, it is food for thought in terms of being in lockdown. My nesting instinct means I’m quite happy to be at home. In fact, I’ve realised that having choices taken from me is liberating – now isn’t that paradoxical? I’ve learned to be patient with myself if I don’t feel motivated. Before long, the motivation returns. I’ve learnt to choose not to read or view material which will put me off balance, so I’m not likely to subscribe to Netflix or re-join Facebook any time soon. Gardening is my therapy of choice – and gardening shows on tv are fascinating viewing choices for me from which I can learn.
Judging by articles and columns in the newspaper, lots of people are learning about themselves while confined to home and in close quarters with others. Rosemary McLeod and Verity Johnson had some entertaining insights in their columns today. I like to learn from our remaining media outlets, stuff.co.nz and rnz.co.nz, especially about the nature of good leadership (and its opposite) in times of pandemic.
Today I discovered that the tree outside my study window is not a kānuka, as I had thought, but a lophomyrtus obcordata or New Zealand myrtle. The Māori name is rōhutu. It took some detective work and I’m pleased to have solved the mystery after noticing that the leaves for kānuka in Which Native Tree? by Andrew Crowe didn’t look like the leaves on my tree.
Appreciating stuff is an “up”:
I spend a lot of time looking out of the window, and it is a great view as I am surrounded by trees, many of them native. This panorama shot, complete with clothesline, gives an idea:
The akeake with red leaves is fascinating to look at because of the texture and varied shades of red to green of the pointy leaves. The pseudopanax next to it provides a contrast as does the cabbage tree, ti kouka, beside that. These are all self-sown, and I like to think there could be native forest regenerating in my own backyard. I have a mini-forest of kōwhai coming up in the front garden and pittosporums and hebes seem to pop up of their own accord too. They are welcome! We need trees.
All these trees mean lots of birds. At the moment, a few waxeye, tauhou, have arrived and are twittering and hanging upside down as they find insects in the roses, rōhutu, kōwhai and hebe outside my window. Fantails, pīwakwaka, are also frequent visitors.
I appreciate sitting out under the trees reading a book in the sun while the chooks scratch around in the garden. They are very companionable, add structure to my day and contribute chicken poo – lots – to the compost! Picking up said poo also tells me my sense of smell is working just fine.
Getting out for exercise is a bit of a stuff -“up”:
My brother and sister-in-law walk kilometres every day. I don’t go for a walk often, being busy running after the chooks and gardening (or so I tell myself – and isn’t my five minutes of yoga in the morning enough?) but it is nice to go down to the park to see how things are progressing. The new sign at the entrance reminds me I don’t have a dog any more.
Or children to keep away from the fenced-off playground:
It is good to see that there are hundreds of monarch butterflies clustered in the trees and lazily drifting on the warm autumn air currents. The roses are fewer now and autumn leaves are beginning to fall.
Mum often feels the need for a walk, and would love to visit the Abberley Park rose garden, but lockdown rules say to stay at home if you are over seventy. Instead, she has found good exercise sweeping the drive and paths.
Cooking and enjoying the harvest is an “up”:
Mum is the pudding maker, and here is her latest: apple and rhubarb (from the garden) pie, and the thirteenth bowl of raspberries I have picked this autumn. Harvesting your own ingredients is very satisfying.
This reminds me of a TV series Keep Cooking and Carry On which Jamie Oliver has created especially for all of us in lockdown. My brother recommended it and I caught up with it on TVNZ OnDemand last night. I enjoyed the bread making. What a joy it was yesterday to find yeast in the supermarket at last! Going to the supermarket is stressful – but at least I can walk there – and there’s no way I can keep two metres away from anyone in those narrow aisles. But there are lighter moments, such as finding the yeast, and this little chap parked outside. I saw a black and tan St Bernard or Newfoundland dog in a cargo bike on Monday. This little dog had a large flowery cushion and a harness to keep him comfortable and safe in his own section at the front while the space at the back is for groceries, I guess. The reflection in the supermarket windows shows a street empty of traffic, making it even safer for him and for us – another “up”.
I was going to call this post The ups and downs of lockdown, but it looks as if it’s all “ups” for me, at least, even the supermarket sometimes, even while I’m acutely aware of the hardship for many, and despite the sad loss of our cherished NZ Listener.