Mother Nature Teaches Flexibility During Times of Upheaval

Reader Contribution by Blythe Pelham
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My normal spring routine includes removing all of last year’s weed fabric from my veggie beds, weeding those beds and my perennial beds, laying down new fabric and straw in preparation for vegetable planting, then planting all of my babies in 6-8 hour stretches over a matter of weeks.

At the beginning of March, just as I was about to begin this time-intensive process, I came down with Covid-19. I’ll say right now, this was a strange and frustrating battle. The first week or so, I strongly sensed I should take it easy but not stay in bed. My daily routine was to move from my bed to my favorite chair so I could be upright. I took this opportunity to research and try to find out more about this new coronavirus.

The second week (10 days, actually) I had to force myself to make the trek down a simple flight of stairs to my chair. My daily shower and any cooking became distant dreams while my husband stepped up and took over my daily indoor chores.

I checked in regularly with my body about whether or not I should go to the hospital. Because of our worries, we ended up getting this finger oximeter. Though it came too late for monitoring during the worst of it, I’m finding it interesting how my oxygen and pulse levels vary depending on my energy output.

Subsequent weeks returned to a state more like the first week but roller coastered every few days back to the worst of it depending on my activity levels. My frustration only grew knowing that my veg babies, which I’d started in February, had been thriving indoors and at least the cabbage family was wanting to make it into the ground where they could truly enjoy themselves.

During this latter period, I was occasionally able to do small, menial chores in the garden like weeding the bank that the community sees. The last thing I needed was another letter to comply with local ordinances while I was trying to maintain any semblance of well-being. Our previous letters each came with hits to my eating and sleeping capabilities—I was already drained and hardly needed more stress.

At most during my climb back to health, I was able to get two hours a day in the garden—only if I was seated. While I never had a fever, I definitely had the cough and shortness of breath. If I wasn’t sitting while weeding, I couldn’t easily maintain even breathing—talk about limiting! My frustration and patience levels were definitely stretched to their limits.

The duration of my battle lasted most of March, all of April, and well into May. In fact, the first time I was able to function normally, without any shortness of breath, was May 26th. I was ecstatic when I realized that I’d been hauling yard waste back to my pickup pile without any breathing issues!

Because of this sideways curveball Mother Nature hurled at me, I’ve had to completely change my usual methods. I usually complete all of one task before going onto the next. I remove the fabric and weeds from all the annual vegetable beds, then I lay down fresh fabric and top it with fresh straw. My last step is to plant my babies.

This year, I’m working partial beds doing each step in small increments as I go. I didn’t know how far I’d make it or whether or not I’d be able to get all my veggies in the ground at all. Thankfully, my husband helped out a couple of days and our youngest popped over for several hours. I still have a lot of planting to do but most of the annual beds are ready and I’m now able to plant without hesitation of a relapse (though my lungs are still occasionally poking at me to behave).

Thankfully, at birth I came prepackaged with a strength in flexibility. Usually it’s Mother Nature’s weatherly fits that I need to work around. Speaking of weather, in a way I was lucky to be ill during this time because my garden is normally fully planted by early-May, having started planting in April. This year, we ended up with a hard frost at 28 degrees in early May. That would likely have taken out most of my seedlings. I’m very grateful that they were still safely in the house.

It’s in my nature to find silver linings… the two I’m taking away from this battle are the survival and safety of my veggie starts from that killing frost and that even at the ripe, old age of 62 I can flex and learn new ways of doing things as I find workarounds for the stumbling blocks life throws at me. Now, if I can just avert my eyes a little more easily when walking past the perennial beds brimming with weeds and to my overgrown head of hair…

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings andBeing Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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