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Finding Treasures in the Midst of an Epidemic

It’s easy to feel frustrated and discouraged watching the news lately. It’s difficult to maintain your bearings with all the gloomy forecasts and devastating statistics. You may wonder if it will ever be safe to go out considering the possible consequences of getting sick, infecting someone else or even dying. We’ve been very fortunate in Southwest Montana with relatively few cases of Covid-19. But everyone is still facing risks, especially as tourists start coming into the area. Fortunately over the past few weeks, I have been recognizing some of the benefits of staying at home, being forced to do certain activities and taking care of things in my life that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I don’t recall ever having so much free time and space in my life!

I am the worst of cooks. Usually, I eat out as many meals as I can manage. Before the shutdown, the idea of staying at home was unthinkable since I couldn’t imagine cooking one meal, let alone three! However, I have been able to find joy in cooking because I’m not rushed. Also, I have to cook or have nothing to eat!

I started small, trying some new recipes and adding spices and fresh herbs that I hadn’t used before. I’ve added sour cream to dishes and fresh basil, rosemary or even cilantro. I was pleasantly surprised with the results! I actually can make great meals with a bit of effort. I also tried some new ideas from cookbooks. These recipes were always appealing to me but I would never have taken the time to try them out. I’ve also started baking and my kitchen always has some goodies. I even made strawberry shortcake from my Mom’s old recipe and it was heavenly – fresh and creamy!

I am celebrating spring this year in a big way because, when you think about it, you don’t know if it might not be your last. It has been lovely to watch the new leaves open before my eyes! I have bird feeders that I attend to carefully. The profusion of birds is a real treat when I’m sitting outside enjoying the Montana spring. I have quail, a pair of them, attracted to my bird food. My other feathered visitors include chickadees, wrens, redheaded nuthatchers, robins and a blue bird. I love sitting outside to hear the music of the birds.

For the past couple years, one of my winged visitors has been a beautiful butterfly. It’s the same species every year (obviously not the same butterfly). I wish I could identify the species. I was finally able to take the time this spring to really examine and enjoy it’s presence on my patio.

Being at home has also taken on a whole new dimension about what a home is. I have had time to reflect on how my life is going and what I want to do differently. This is a good time to focus on what you like best about the people you live with. We have much to be grateful for.

Turning off the phone and the TV is another way to enjoy your home. An evening walk is a great way to get some exercise and check out your neighborhood. I like to take in the beauty all around me. It helps me focus on the treasures all around us. We are fortunate to be in Montana with the prospect of another summer.

While I have found new joys and perspectives during the shutdown, I am aware that many have endured extreme difficulties and sad experiences during this time. This is a good time to reach out, talk to an old friend or family member. It’s alright to share your burdens. This is a stressful time. Finding a sense of balance and security is necessary in this new environment. If you are feeling overwhelmed, isolated, or deeply sad, please seek professional help.

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