I have not eaten out in a restaurant in months. I know I’m not alone in this. I know some people say it is silly to stay away from them, that restaurants are part normal life. I also know that others, like myself, are tired of eating our own cooking. So delivery and take out reign supreme right now in the art of nourishing one’s self during a pandemic.
But you just nourish more than your body. You need to nourish your mind, your heart, and your soul. Nourishing the body is easy when you consider it comes down to good eating. How do you manage the rest?
Some people are using books, online courses, puzzles, and more to nourish their mind. Beloved has turned to books and documentaries. How are you managing this dear readers?
Beloved nourishes his heart with relationships. He talks to his loved ones even when he can’t see them. He is open with his feelings when dealing with others. He finds places that make his heart soar when he needs to. Soemtimes certain actions help.
To nourish his soul, he places himself in nature. He allows himself to find and be a part of the magic that happens in existence. He embraces the simple things. And of course he has the four-footed one and a duck to help him become a part of the magic.
When Beloved is working through a problem, it isn’t uncommon to find that he has taken over a wall in the house. It will be covered with sticky notes which contain a word or two at most.
When I inside with the four-footed one, I discovered that Beloved had taken over a large wall. Several notes were stuck to it, and he was wandering around back and forth, muttering to himself.
Experience has taught me it is best to give this space, and him, a wide berth. Experience has also taught me that there is no rushing this process, even if all I am trying to do is help.
So upon discovering the wall, and listening to the odd words, I took the four-footed one with me into another room. I knew she’d want to help Beloved solve his issue, but I also knew that wouldn’t be something he would appreciate all that much at the moment.
I also knew that in time, probably not any time soon, he would remove the notes, put the pictures back on the wall, and stop muttering to himself. In the meanwhile, the four-footed one and I would give him space, share meals with him, and wait for the signal that he was finished.
The storm rolled in rather quickly. We had seen it cresting up over the hills and was surely hours away. And then within minutes, the sky was black with heavy clouds, the wind had whipped up, and the storm was upon us.
If we needed any further proof of the storm’s quick advance, all we had to do was check on the four-footed one. She had been resting peacefully in front of the door when we saw the storm in the distance. When the darkened sky meant turning on a light, she had already moved to her safe spot, one of her beds, which is under a heavy table. Frankly, in terrible weather in this area is ideal for us as well.
Beloved darted outside to lock up the shed and lock the outside shutters while I shut the windows. The house would grow stuffy as the wind howled, but we would be dry and safe as the storm did whatever it needed to do.
Most storms here last a short time, but this one held the promise of lasting longer and stronger than what we had experienced. The four-footed one had pulled her favorite stuffed toy in with her as she hunkered down for the duration, as if to verify what we felt.
It lasted for hours, with high pitched shrieks, lashing rain and plenty of thunder. As always, once the storm was done, the air was fresh and everything was densely green.
A tight, stiff neck greeted me this morning as I got out of bed. I tried massaging it a little, but nothing made a difference. My neck was still stiff and tight.
Beloved suggested he would massage it a bit to see if it made any difference. He applied heat before he rubbed it, and still, it hurt the same as before. He decided to massage my back, and oddly as he massaged down by my shoulder blades, my neck started to feel better. It may have been a case of my body just relaxing, or it may have been one of those connections that seem to happen all the time. You know, the kind you feel pain in one area of your body, but the other area is where the pain originates.
I didn’t think much of it; I was just grateful for my neck to feel better, which is also not unusual. I end up ignoring those connections, those pieces I should be paying attention to, simply because I feel better.
While talking with a specialist later on today, I casually mentioned the pain in my neck and how it finally left. He said that what I was talking about was referred pain, and it isn’t uncommon. It turns out that this type of pain is why people turn all sorts of healing in desperation. They are treating the area that hurts, but it isn’t the source, so of course, the pain stays. It continues to ache and bother you, and so you try more things. However, you are always treating the wrong area, so nothing you try works.
The four-footed one tried to steal my pillow, which is why I woke up shortly after one this morning. That’s how I knew that Beloved wasn’t in bed.
The soft flickering light of a candle told me that he was in the sitting room, a candle or two providing him with enough illumination for whatever had captured his attention.
I had a choice to make, either protect my pillow from the four-footed thief or get out of bed and find out what Beloved was doing. As I was getting up, a third option crossed my mind. I could check on Beloved while protecting my pillow by merely taking the thing with me. So that’s what I did.
I found myself sitting in the oversized chair, clutching a pillow, and listening to Beloved tell me about his friend. It is also why the four-footed one found her way onto the chair with me, still trying to steal the pillow, or at least a portion of it to snuggle against.
Since I had won the first round of pillow games with the dog, I decided not to push things too much and let her snuggle in. I made a note to wash the pillowcase when we officially started our day. I listened to Beloved unburden his heart, allowed the dog to settle down, and decided that despite the strange hours and what have you, this is precisely where I needed to be.
As he stirred the tea, he told me of the girl who used to live around her—the girl who used to walk the hills as far as the eye could see. Each year she climbed the highest ridge and spent a week up there alone. She would come back down and declare the type of harvest they would have, which crops to plant, and when to make the celebration pots.
One year she went up to the peak with a different type of offerings. She didn’t come back down, the crops withered instead of flourishing, and the festivals did not happen. They didn’t search for her, nor did anyone ever go up the hill again. Apparently, it was her lot in life to carry out this task, and no one was anointed to follow in her footsteps.
With the same systematic approach, he dumped out the water, to read the leaves—the leaves he claimed would tell me what the universe wanted of me. He told me that the leaves would not tell my future; instead, they would explain what the world had in store for me if I followed a particular path. It was my choice to follow the way or not. However, what he told me was as strange as the story he told me earlier, and I left wondering how the universe could see a road to take when it placed at least ten choices at my feet.
I knew a woman who believed so strongly in herself and her abilities to master any task she needed to do that she wasn’t remotely frightened by living in an isolated area. She relished the idea of not relying on the power company, the water company, or any other company for that matter when it came to her survival.
She planned a garden of fruits and vegetables to nourish her body. She researched how to use a small piece of land to support a goat or two. She studied how people built their eco-homes and created lists of the benefits and shortcomings of each type.
If she felt apprehensive about any of this, she never let it on. She continued to plan, research, study, and start her homestead: nothing grand, but self-sustaining and all her own.
There is so much about her that I admired, not that I ever told her. I couldn’t mostly because I couldn’t fathom how she would be comfortable with this life she envisioned. Of course, my surprise at each announcement she made left me speechless as I contemplated how she would pull any of this off.
These past months she’s crossed my mind often, even though I lost touch with her long ago. During these times of uncertainty, I’m sure she would do just fine with her steadfast confidence and self-sufficiency.
So much depends upon a small yellow flower bobbing in the wind, from bees looking for pollen to a curious dog, wanting to inhale the sweet scent.
Of course, the wind doesn’t care much about these other things that depend upon the bloom. The wind does what it wants, and if that means it decides to take the smiling yellow head of the flower off with it, so be it. The bees will have to find other blossoms to pollinate and the dog, while she will have to settle for snuffling the scent of other things.
That flower may be better off since it was scattered by the wind a day ago. I cannot speak on behalf of the bees, but I can assure you that in time the dog would not be content only to smell the flower. Oh no, for she is a passionate dog. She would want to claim it as hers, eating it if need be.
The bright beacon of life doesn’t deserve to be devoured by a greedy dog. It also doesn’t deserve to be cut off from its stem and friends so that a human can place it in a vase to admire in his house, which is why he left in the field, to the mercy of the wind.
I listened to the tea kettle whistle, signaling the water was ready. I heard the sound of cupboards opening, water pouring, china gentle clinking together, and feet on the hard floor.
I heard the soft catch of the door opening, four-feet’s tags jingling as she hopped over the sill and onto the patio. The gentle scraping of the chair on the cement told me that Beloved had found a place to settle in and read.
Soon there was the soft quacking of Marta as she made her way up from the pond. If I know her, she will make her way to four-feet, and the two of them will settle down near his feet. At least that’s what the two of them do with me. I suspect they both hope that when I sit out there with my coffee, there will be a form of manna from heaven, although, in this case, crumbs from something I am eating.
I didn’t need to open my eyes for any of this, so familiar are the sounds that I can see through closed eyes. If I were to bet, I would bet that Beloved settled into to chair on the north side of the patio, not just because there is the shade for him either, but because he is also so familiar to me. He always sits there.
I didn’t open my eyes though; I stayed where I was, eyes closed, soaking in the soft sounds of the silence while I meditated on nothing.
These days linger on, and the night seems to last longer than the days. I know time is slipping past me, almost unnoticed other than the shift of the light and the blooming of the flowers. I don’t question it, though; I just let it happen because I don’t think there is anything I can do about it.
There is a real possibility, I feel, that time is suspended for hours on end, then someone bumps the hour hand several hours ahead and time is back where it belongs. I know that this isn’t what happens, but it would be a neat trick if we could do it.
Four-feet seems better at noticing the shifting of time. She is a creature of schedules and habits now. She insists on eating at certain times; technically, if I let her, she’d eat all the time. She also insists on going for walks at certain times, not to mention getting her teeth brushed so she can go to bed.
She doesn’t surrender her schedule; she doesn’t pretend that things don’t matter anymore. She isn’t worried about miracles either. She marches right along with time, pulling and pushing me along with her.