Readers share more thoughts on how to cope with COVID

Last fall, we asked readers to share how they are coping with COVID-19 and its effects. We received so many wonderful stories and ideas. In last week’s column we shared a few. To help you travel through these strange pandemic times we share a few more this week.

Please go to producer.com/farmliving/contest-winners-help-cope-with-covid to read more from our readers on how they are lighting their way through these COVID times.

Reviving letter-writing skills

Heather Crookes shared that she and a friend would often meet in town for lunch and a visit. But with COVID, that wasn’t possible.

One day Heather received a letter in the mail from her friend with a hand sanitizing wipe.

“It was such a treat to get it in the mail”, Heather said. They have continued writing back and forth sharing about the everyday things they are doing. They always tuck in a little surprise, such as a small chocolate bar or an individual drink packet.

In the letter, Heather said they think it will be interesting to look back on the letters when they get older and think about all they have gone through with this pandemic, good and bad.

Learning new skills

Brenda Love of Dashwood, Ont., shared how she learned to play the ukulele during the pandemic.

“IPad, computer, TV, cellphone, land phone, e-reader … these were some of the high tech devices people used to combat isolation and loneliness during the Great Pandemic Lockdown of 2020. While I used most of these, in addition I also crocheted several baby blankets, knit many hats and scarves and even made some baby quilts. But the very best method I used to beat the isolation was to strum my ukulele. As a novice on this instrument, I wanted to learn more chords and become a better player, and so I strummed for a few minutes several times a day, each time trying to perfect playing new chords with new techniques. Many of the songs I played brought back memories of both joyful times and heartaches. Via my IPad I accessed a ukulele web page for new chords, new songs and strumming ideas. Over many weeks, I gained confidence and techniques, kept myself occupied and beat the isolation blues. My ukulele … my saviour.”

Brenda hopes to join the local ukulele group in her village to entertain at nursing homes and adult centres, when they are able to do this.

Brightening another’s day

Mark Kihn of Calgary began his Easter Lily Project by delivering a lily to his 93-year-old mother the day after Easter. She lives in a care home, so the staff had to give her the lily and he waved from the window. She was delighted.

It seemed to him that with the COVID-19 pandemic, almost everyone has become a shut-in, especially with the cold spring temperatures. So why not give lilies to the widows, single moms and elderly couples in his church? He made a deal with the Beddington Co-op Food Store produce manager, who was overstocked with Easter lilies. Mark agreed to take 20 at a third of the regular price.

“She almost fell over,” he reported.

He grabbed his church phone directory and made a few calls to line up some deliveries. His system worked. “People were home and the traffic was light.”

He said, “I’d ring the doorbell, set the flower on the step, and back six feet away. I was always met with astonishment, happiness, even an occasional shriek. That was my reward.”

He delivered 35 lilies in total, ran three co-op stores out of lily inventory and did a few grocery pickups for some of the lily recipients.

Day road trips

Dorothy Hollands from Edmonton shared that “living with COVID is a challenge for one and all. It has upended life as most of us know it. So, what to do is the question?

“The answer for my husband and I during the height of Alberta’s beautiful summer days was to hit the road. A weekly day trip to an Alberta community became a highly anticipated venture away from the house.

Our day trips (once initial travel restrictions were relaxed) took us to Tofield, Drayton Valley, Red Water, Vegreville, Camrose, Millet, Morinville, and Calmar, all within easy driving distance from Edmonton. We can attest to great hot dogs, hamburgers and milk shakes in each of the communities visited, our number one pick being the Red Barn in Millet.

Apart from the destination itself, the route was always a joy. The fields of wheat, barley, canola and alfalfa were a wonderful reminder of Alberta’s agricultural roots and have now become wonderful memories to reflect upon during the winter months.”

A COVID Thanksgiving

Rosalind Wiebe of Niverville, Man., shared the following:

“We are a farming couple, aged 78 and 81 and are used to isolation, or as we call it, peaceful country living.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, I glued a huge, pink paper heart on my screen door reading, ‘you are so loved.’ Regretfully, in hindsight now, I’d forgotten to ask my visitors to sign the heart. (I’ve had guestbooks most of the 57 years we’ve been married.) My kids and grandkids and jogging friends would visit with me through the screen door on my deck.

“I filled my time, and continue still with sewing, making quiet books and themed picnic blankets for my grandkids. The upside of the isolation is spending quilt free time on projects, not having to worry about tidying up in case of visitors.”

Rosalind also shared this poem about their Thanksgiving.

A COVID Thanksgiving

There was no turkey dinner at our house this year

The COVID rules were very clear.

Only 10 guests could come into your house,

That would be 12, with me and my spouse!

We met at our cottage and cleaned up the yard.

The kids and the grandkids worked very hard.

We built a big fire with all of the wood,

Roasted our hotdogs, and all understood

This was a special Thanksgiving Day,

And we were thankful that we were OK!

Planting a COVID garden

Donna Okkema of Vermilion, Alta., shared a detailed journey through the difficult and disappointing wet fall of 2019 to the combining, calving and seeding spring of 2020 where they thought nothing could get worse. Then arrived COVID-19.

She described it as “strange, frustrating times. How did we survive, cope and stay sane? Well, just put one foot in front of the other. One day at a time.” And share some wise words from others.

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Change your thoughts, and you change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” Charles Kingsley

Donna shared that “on top of all this, I took on a project — something to be enthusiastic about. I love plants, nature and gardening. So, I started a new garden. I turned a spot that had been full of a row of seven dead mayday trees (death by black knot) and turned it into a lovely little garden spot with a large, raised planter. I planted salad greens in it at the end of April and covered it with a tent of plastic and had green onions, radish, lettuce and baby carrots very early. I planted a garden and tended it every second I wasn’t busy doing something else. When I was in my garden COVID did not exist.

“The miracle is this: the more we share, the more we have.” Leonard Nimoy

“I shared lettuce and later on beans, zucchini, squash, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes. Bouquets of sweet peas and flowers.”

Donna also collects quotes and it is her “hope that in sharing them and giving my perspective will give somebody else the enthusiasm to try something new and just avoid thinking about COVID and how it has changed our lives. We have to hang in there. It will be in the past someday, and things will get better and it will be a dim memory. The time is going to go by anyway, so we might as well stay sane in the meantime. This too shall pass.”

Donna’s entire story and quotes can be found on our website at producer.com/farmliving/contest-winners-help-cope-with-covid.

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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