“I admire you for being able to touch a fish. I mean, I could if I had to but I don’t want to,” my co-worker said to me back in the days before the pandemic scattered us from our office to work from home.

It has been only a month but it seems like a lifetime ago. One very long, drawn-out month. I’ve adjusted to a new home-bound routine, started practicing a slew of now normal procedures – which are highly abnormal – and even settled into a new job.

The last four weeks have been weird, to say the least. I don’t sit still well and it seems like sitting is all I am doing.

Granted, there has been outdoor time but it has been extremely limited.

It’s still too early for me to go fishing. I am still waiting for lakes and ponds to thaw. I have gathered my gear, checked my waders for leaks and taken inventory of my tackle. It sits ready for whenever the water calls me.

Trailhead parking areas that are typically sparsely occupied are overflowing with vehicles. Some people aren’t following the rules and are crowding outdoor spaces. So, for me, the local trails are off-limits for the time being.

Dee Menear/Franklin Journal

I do spend as much time as possible exploring a secret spot … one I’ll never tell anyone about.

Being outdoors and having the freedom to wander when and where I want to is not the only thing I miss about life before the pandemic.

I miss my kids, my family and my friends.

But I am starting to see some good things rise up out of the chaos, at least from my perspective.

For instance, every trip to the grocery store is deliberate and planned. I go with a list in hand, get what I need and get out. The way I see it, leaving the store as quickly as possible so the next person in line can enter is a deliberate act of kindness.

I’ve learned to improvise if a needed item isn’t on the shelves and I’ve rediscovered an old habit of using every bit of what I have on hand.

A couple of apples hiding in the bottom of the fridge turned into unsweetened applesauce which I used as a substitution for butter. I remembered mayonnaise makes a great substitute for eggs and oil in cake and sweet bread recipes. Vegetable scraps and boiling water make a great stock for soups.

I’ve always enjoyed soap making but never seemed to have the time. I’ve been able to dabble in that hobby again. In fact, I actually have the time to do a lot of things I never had time to do. I’m teaching myself new skills and expanding my knowledge of subjects that interest me.

There is far less daily pressure to complete the tasks before me. My calendar is empty of commitments and reminders. While that is disheartening, it is a relief to not have overbooked days for weeks on end.

The silver lining in all this is that I am enjoying a slower, simpler life and I hope to never revert back to the way things used to be. When all of this is over, I don’t want to remember the long lonesome days. I want to be able to recall the joy in living an unrushed lifestyle.

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