Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Seven weeks: A status report

Seven weeks.
I've been at StarField Farm in essential isolation for seven weeks now.

Someone yesterday called me and asked me how I was doing. It was hard to answer that question. I told my friend *what* I was doing and that's a window into the how.

For the past week or so, I've found a rhythm to my days centered around discrete tasks. On the nice days, I walk the dogs in the woods and clean up in the garden. Our fruit trees have never looked so well pruned.

I spend a lot of time working with sourdough starter and baking different kinds of breads. Because it still gets cold at night, I regularly need to replenish wood, which means getting on the tractor, loading a bucket, and ferrying wood into the kitchen.

I'm not doing well at keeping to a normal sleep cycle, staying up too late and waking up late. Nor am I keeping to normal meal times. Despite baking, I'm not hungry most of the time. My friends and neighbors have been the lucky recipients of my sourdough obsession.

So, how am I?

I feel myself slowing down, letting the time stretch out without trying to exert much control over it. Do I feel depressed? Not really. I'm far too familiar with anxiety and depression and this just feels like I'm in a powered-down state. Like the sleep/energy saver setting on the computer.

Leaving the house to go to the post office (we don't get delivery at the house) or my occasional replenishment trips to the market no longer feel frightening. I have a routine with my masks, hand sanitizer, and clorox wipes. This is just what needs to be done.

I've moved from panic to caution in my day to day life. The extreme fatigue that flattened me for several weeks has eased. There seems to be a limit to how long a body can function in a heightened alarm state. I do realize that whatever balance I've found is likely tenuous at best.

My husband is still in the thick of treating covid-19 patients. When we spoke last night, he told me he felt sad. I think he, too, is shifting from the initial emergency response to a more reflective one. In a lot of ways, it's simpler to be in emergency-mode. All the painful emotions are put on hold and there's an outlet for adrenaline and fear. Afterwards, there comes a reckoning. And I worry for my husband, his colleagues, and my friends who are first responders. The risk to their mental health is likely higher now than the risk to their physical health.

Hearing the news of the NY ER physician who died from suicide this week felt like a personal blow.

How am I?

Physically? Safe. Emotionally? Weary. Overall? Heartsick for all who are suffering and will continue to suffer. Powerless in the face of knowing that what comes next (and I believe there will be a next) will not be easy.

But today is sunny, warm, and dry. My dogs will revel in the smells of the rich earth as they snuffle in the underbrush. The kitchen will be filled with the scent of baking bread. For today, that will be enough. 

Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift.


  1. It occured to me yesterday (or day before, who knows?) that, in lots of ways, the idea of states "opening up" causes me more anxiety than the isolation orders did. I'm afraid for people who won't take precautions, people who have no choice but to return to work and risk their lives, and for healthcare professionals.

    You and your partner and family remain in my thoughts, daily. I'm glad you have Starfield Farm, I'm glad you're not feeling anxious or depressed, and I'm glad you're writing these posts.

    1. Thank you, my friend. I share that worry, as well. And I spend a lot of time wondering what life will look like in 1 month, or 1 year from now. When the acute part of this crisis has passed, what will we take from it, both as individuals and as a society.

  2. Hug your dogs, walk in the nice weather, and smell nature coming to life.

    1. Being able to work in the garden has been a godsend.