Like a lot of homesteaders, we’ve been waiting for this. Except we thought it’d be climate change or oilmaggedon—a hurricane, a flood, a major ice storm, some inability to get at our oil.
Instead, it’s a really contagious, really dangerous virus.
I keep thinking how in all the post-apocalyptic content out there, the movies and stories we’ve watched and read, the citizens always have to leave. A mad rush out of the city. Traffic jams. Helicopters. Evacuations. Abandonment. People jumping out of cars and running.
Instead, we have to stay home.
It’s a rather passive-aggressive apocalypse.
I recently learned about preppers. They’re the people camped out in their underground bunkers right now, laughing over their cases of canned food. Preppers live their lives prepping for the worst. I don’t think we’re as extreme as peppers but a big reason we started growing our own food (and teaching others to do the same) was to prepare for things like interruptions in our food supply chain and the possibility of food being too expensive to buy. Food security, especially living on an island on the edge of the continent, weighs on our minds a lot. A bad hurricane—or flu pandemic—and we could be cut off from our food supply for days or weeks or longer.
Because I wanted access to healthy, inexpensive food every day of the year, I started to produce my own. I grow vegetables and fruit. I raise chickens. I keep bees.
It’s strange comfort that this pandemic hit just as my hens started laying more eggs. Yesterday we dug out the cold frame and harvested fresh kale. When I planted the cold frame in the fall, I thought, it will be nice to enjoy fresh greens during the spring hunger gap! Eating kale and eggs and garlic from my backyard last night for supper, my thoughts centred on gratitude: having food at home means not having to go the grocery store which means less risk of exposure to the virus.
Not only is my homegrown food keeping me healthy, it’s literally keeping me alive.
Home is where the health is
Home has been saving me for a while now.
It started a few months ago and it also started 5 years ago.
Five years ago I quit a job that was toxic and abusive. The process of filing a complaint, seeing it go nowhere, seeking and finding no support, then finally quitting left me suffering from acute PTSD. I became very depressed and started really looking at the chain of abuse I’d suffered from childhood on. I realized I had a lot of trauma I’d never acknowledged or processed and I began a long, healing journey that continues to this day.
Healing means giving things up and letting things go
A few months ago, I realized my next step on my healing journey was to let go of socializing. With Christmas looming, I started turning down offers to hang out. In the new year, it continued. I told people I was on a “socialization sabbatical.” I told them I needed to stay home and heal.
A few months later, and we’re all being told to do the same.
And here I am, still at home, preparing to…stay at home even more.
So I decided to knit.
I always knit. Since I started knitting, I’ve rarely been without my needles. I knit everywhere, any time I can. I love knitting. A few years ago I even started a little business, Diz Knits. It’s slogan, “bright knits for dark times,” turned out to be quite prescient.
I learned how to knit just before a trip to Europe in 2008. I wanted something to do with my hands while sitting for long hours on planes and trains.
I relentlessly chew at and pick the cuticles and skin on my fingers. It’s a habit I’ve been trying to break for decades. My fingers are often raw and bleeding or covered in bandages.
Through healing I’ve learned how this habit is a physical manifestation of my trauma. Whenever I feel anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, frightened, ashamed…basically any time I feel “bad,” I pick at my fingers. I harm myself to not feel bad. It’s twisted, but that’s what abuse will do to a person.
When a friend once noticed my fingers, I explained this all to her. I said, “when I finally stop chewing my fingers, I know I will be truly healed.”
Well, 12 years of knitting, and I’m still chewing my fingers. Shit, I’m chewing them right now.
I used to feel a lot of hatred towards myself for this habit. I am learning, with the help of mindfulness, to unconditionally love myself. To express love towards myself instead of shame or disgust when I fall into this habit.
And it was slowly working! My fingers were starting to heal.
But then…this pandemic. I’m sure there’s a lot people chewing their fingers right now.
I needed a project. Something to keep my fingers busy. Some big, bright thing to keep my mind off dark things.
Welcome to the Diz Knits Pandemic Knit- and Heal-Along. You can follow along as I knit and heal. Because knitting helps, maybe it will help you, too. After all, we all have some healing to do.
P.S. Stay home!