In the doom and gloom of a global pandemic where a heartless novel virus has taken the lives of at least 350,000 people, it’s hard to imagine any silver linings. However, lately I’ve been hearing the expression more than a few times. So, this column is the playbook for coronavirus silver linings.
The most likely origin of the phrase is “Comus,” a 1634 work by English poet John Milton: “Was I deceiv’d, or did a sable cloud/Turn forth her silver lining on the night?” Imagine that saying having the same meaning 386 years later.
The silver lining I’ve heard most frequently in this time of quarantine and isolation is the home project productivity. Long languishing projects have been completed. New project ideas have been hatched and carried to fruition. Our farrier commented that he has gotten caught up on more lingering projects this spring than in all the past five years. On any acreage, there are more than a few projects awaiting at any given time, so knocking some of them off feels very good.
Gardening has become a homebound activity of choice. “I finally have the garden that I’ve wanted for many years,” exclaimed a friend. There’s something very grounding about connecting with the good earth, feeling and smelling the soil while placing seeds and seedlings into a finely worked tilth. Watching life emerge when little green heads find their way to the sun is rewarding with the promise of homegrown produce on the horizon.
In one Mazama neighborhood, an innovative chain saw artist created an inviting fire pit complete with benches hewn from downed logs. Across the road, three young family members took the chain saw art up a notch and built a tiki bar out of pine logs. Without an opportunity to belly-up to a bar in the near future, “Let’s build one,” they mused.
Perhaps the most meaningful silver lining has been the slowing down of life to a pace where the reflection of important things has been brought to the fore. Parents (when not frustrated with trying to be a surrogate teacher) have found time spent with their children to be invaluable. When not another Netflix movie can be watched, some “old-fashioned” activities have been resurrected — such as playing a board game, putting together a puzzle, or bringing out the old croquet set.
Connecting with folks from the past has become a natural extension to contemplating life and its meaning. Getting reacquainted with high school, college, and work friends from days gone by has been gratifying and fun to relive old memories.
An Italian friend of the family described his life at home with wife, children, and working in the vineyard as “i ritmi di una volta” — the rhythms of the past. Usually, traveling the globe in his wine business, he has embraced this time as life used to be.
I have no doubt that there are many more silver linings out there to add to the playbook, if we just look for them.
Here’s one sort of off-topic. What do an office chair, a vintage GE blender, horse manure, 8-pound weights, a student desk, and a birthday cake have in common? Huh? They are all items that have been successfully re-homed through the platform of Methow Buy Sell Trade.
The birthday cake was a real find. Since my husband’s big seven-oh birthday party was reduced to Zoom, his children wanted a cake with candles to follow their singing of the birthday song. Not being a cake baker myself, I posted a request and received several names. Nicole Powell from Twisp whipped up a scrumptious chocolate layer cake just in time for the big day!