The Silent Spring: I’m excited!

There is so little to be excited about right now that I’m excited about being excited. I have some fiddlehead ferns. I got a farm delivery this morning and the cute little fronds were included in the basket. They look … just like ferns! I’ve blanched them and tonight will sauté in butter and add some lemon zest. This is definitely the highlight of the week – let’s hold on to every little milestone and every little occasion; make a big deal about the smallest accomplishment. Every step will bring us to the end of this crisis and we will look back and be grateful for all the little fragments of excitement that made up The Silent Spring.

The Silent Spring: Yes, you can lose weight during the pandemic …

… if you are a dog. The general consensus is that we are all packing on the pounds by comfort eating while sheltering in place. But, social distancing has meant that Savannah is not getting her usual share of treats. She has two special friends who always have treats at the ready either in pockets or drawers. We usually visit Morgan in her office every day and it’s hard to explain to Savannah that we can’t go in the door as we walk past. Then, we have daily walks with Melodie whose pockets are always stuffed with doggie treats. I’m sure Savannah’s trimmer waistline is the result of the absence of extra sustenance.

Are we eating more? I’m not sure, but one friend in California texted me that she was not confessing to eating a lot but the refrigerator door light was giving her a nice tan.

The Silent Spring: It’s not easy being clean

I’m a fairly calm, organized, obey-the-rules kinda gal. So, I’m handling the sanitation issue in a calm, organized and obey-the-rules kinda way. But yesterday I had a quiet, tidy meltdown.

Just giving you the visual – I went for a walk without Savannah, because with her, it’s a sniff not a walk. It was a gorgeous afternoon – almost too hot to walk in a mask so I cut my walk a bit short when I saw my watch ping to let me know I had a parcel to be picked up from the parcel room. The system is technology at its best … the delivery carrier places the box in a locker, scans it and the system automatically sends a notification with a code. I checked to make sure no one else was in the parcel room – it’s too small for social distancing between the locker aisles – entered my code and retrieved my parcel, a soft envelope containing fabric that I’d ordered to make more masks – that’s another story. Clasping the envelope to my body with my arms because I needed two hands to exit the parcel room door and two hands to use my key fob and pull open the building entrance door, my heart stopped when I realized I was without doubt rubbing virus germs all over myself. Typically I take a carrier bag to pick up parcels and mail for that reason but I had been mid-walk outside.

So there I was, covered in potential virus and starting to hyperventilate with a mask on. I got the front door open and was about to drop the parcel on the sanitation station inside when I realized I hadn’t opened the sheet of newspaper in readiness and the bottle of Lysol was lying on top of a stack of newspaper and not standing to attention. I didn’t want to drop the package on the floor and transfer germs inside so I walked onto the porch but then realized that Savannah might lie on top of the virus before I had time to clean. So, I started to rip the package open to get the fabric out … but I still had gloves on and plastic envelopes are constructed not to rip easily. I finally managed to pull out the packets of fabric, grabbed the Lysol and sprayed the plastic bags liberally and then placed the dripping products on the porch and tossed the outer virus-carrying envelope. Remember, I still had my mask on. I could hardly breathe. Finally, I removed my gloves, in the correct way, then my mask and, being careful not to touch where I had clasped the parcel, I finished wiping the fabric bags, tossed those before Savannah could sniff them, washed my hands, ran into the bathroom, tore off my clothes the way I have learned to remove gloves – inside out – and jumped into the shower.

As I said, it’s not easy being clean!

The Silent Spring: Look up at the stars

I know that when I take Savannah out for her final walk of the day, the stars are out. I had never thought much about it but now I realize that I rarely see any stars. The other night when I took her out, I looked up and was overcome by how many stars I could see. The sky is so much darker and the air is so much clearer. Let’s hope we can hold on to that sliver of silver lining after the duration.

The Silent Spring: The day in between

I never know how to behave on Easter Saturday. Good Friday is easy – eat hot cross buns and then be glum all day. When we lived in Midtown, I went to a four-hour Good Friday service at All Saints’ Episcopal Church. It was a meditative, almost silent service – I came out feeling distraught at the horror of Good Friday. And we rejoice on Easter Sunday, saying, “He is risen, He is risen indeed,” and get to eat whatever it is we’ve given up for Lent.

But there’s no playbook for Saturday. Is it Easter Saturday, Holy Saturday or Easter Eve? Fortunately, Cedric and I have a tradition that works well. We make Resurrection Cookies. You read appropriate Bible verses while you prep the mixture, for example, when you chop the pecans you use a wooden spoon to symbolize the flogging of Jesus; when you put the cookie dough in the oven, you place tape on the door to symbolize the sealing of the tomb; and when you open the oven on Sunday morning, the cookies are hollow to symbolize the empty tomb. I have small post-its to identify each Bible verse and it’s always a joy to pull out the recipe on Easter Saturday and find the post-its are still sticky enough to use.

You’ll find plenty of recipes for Resurrection Cookies on the Internet if you’ve not made them before. It’s never too late to start a tradition and you’ll never forget the year you started this particular tradition.

The Silent Spring: Hot cross buns

It might be different, but it’s still Holy Week and today is Good Friday when Cedric and I always have hot cross buns for breakfast. Hot cross buns are sweet, spiced yeast buns, often toasted, which I presume is where the “hot” comes in; the cross is either cut into the top of the bun or made with a rolled piece of pastry dough; and they are studded with raisins or sultanas. My young cousin in London once opined that he preferred hot happy buns.

I typically make my own because they are almost impossible to find in Atlanta. Some stores make a facsimile but they are just not the same as traditional buns and often have sweet frosting piped in an X across the top. Full marks for trying!

But tradition is tradition; we are all doing our best in challenging and scary times; reach out to someone today and tell them you are thinking of them and will see them soon. Yes, tradition is tradition and virus or no virus, in the words of George and Ira Gershwin, “They can’t take that away from me.”


The Silent Spring: Time for a haircut …

… not me, fortunately, but Savannah looked like a sheepdog and couldn’t see out from under her bangs (fringe for my one U.K. reader). Our wonderful mobile groomer, My Groomer & Me, is on hiatus, like other groomers and hairdressers and the little clips popped out every time she rolled on the carpet. So out came my sharpest sewing scissors, the ones that I watch like a hawk at quilting retreat in case someone uses them to cut anything other than fabric. Two snips later and she could see. I had been wary of cutting her bangs as I didn’t want to poke her in the eyes but my dear friend, Morgan, patiently told me to position myself behind her, hold up the bangs with one hand and just snip: pretty obvious when you know how!

It’s a good thing all us ladies are holed up inside so no one can compare their root colors or complain about their cute bob that is no more. If your hair salon has an online reservation system, I suggest you grab several slots for May, June and July so that, as soon as this is over, you at least have a guaranteed appointment They will be slammed.


The Silent Spring: Gloves are my new best friend

Every fall (Autumn for my one U.K. reader), I buy a couple of new pairs of gloves. They aren’t expensive and Amazon, of course, offers every conceivable color. They get pretty grubby through the winter, especially as I wear a pair every time I walk Savannah. Now, like for many others, gloves have become indispensable. I have a wonderful green pair of rubber gloves that reach almost to my elbows. They are my newspaper gloves and live in the sanitation station by the front door. Our wonderful newspaper carrier has not missed a single delivery and every morning the New York Times is outside our door. I don my gloves, open the door, grab the newspaper which is always in one or two plastic bags, tear open the bags and Cedric and I then do a tango while he pulls the newspaper out without touching the bags, which I then toss, remove the gloves by tugging down so my fingers don’t touch the outside and then use a wipe on the door handle. Every simple act takes 10 minutes.

When I go out of the apartment, which I only do to walk Savannah or pick up mail from the mailroom, I wear blue plastic disposable gloves and have become very adept at removing those, courtesy of Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN who demonstrated the foolproof way to remove them safely. But a few weeks ago, before plastic gloves became a vital piece of clothing, the mornings were chilly and I was still wearing my nice leather gloves to take Savannah out. We were already being conscious of washing hands regularly, so I thought, well, I’ll just spray my gloves every time I come in. Trust me, leather and Lysol are not a happy mix – who knew! So that pair of leather gloves has been retired. And of course I haven’t even mentioned that in all this routine, I also have to very carefully put on and then take off a mask … more on that another time.

The Silent Spring: My holy corner

Many churches are offering online services, Bible studies and hangouts. We’re all Zooming all over the place and one benefit is that you don’t need to dress too elegantly. I try to remember to switch off the ceiling fan and not wear dangly earrings that might distract my fellow Zoomies. The rector of Saint Anne’s, Reverend Licia, suggested creating a holy corner, a safe space for worship. It can be in the middle of the living room if you like – no one is coming to visit.

For my safe space, I moved a rocking chair from the bedroom into a corner of the living room near some bookshelves that house several of my Bibles and prayer books. I angled the chair so I can look out of the window and see the hummingbird feeders and the sunset. A safe space doesn’t have to be fancy – a couple of cushions on the floor where you can worship, think, pray, cry, reflect. My safe space is already comfortable and familiar and I suspect might become a permanent fixture that will keep me peaceful even after the duration.