Winter of the mind

Around a month ago, I was out for a walk by the Union Canal in Edinburgh. It had just snowed, again, but the sun was starting to come out. I ended up hurrying home well before the sunset, but it must have been beautiful that night. I thought we were at the end of winter; spring must be around the corner and then a slow happy slide into summer and sunshine.

Instead, I find my winter mentality continuing as the world feels less stable around me. I’ve focused on good food, hot tea, my knitting; luxuries that I know I am grateful for.

(I think that bird was posing for the photo)
Union Canal, Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the type of place that whenever you take a photo, you have to try incredibly hard not to get some other people in it. The path along the Canal is a popular walk, usually filled with people and dogs. There’s even a cafe run out of an canal boat which seems to do a thriving business.

Strangely for a person who like myself grew up in London, people like to chat. On an early date in my relationship, an older couple out for a walk along the Canal as well ended up asking us out of the blue if we were on our first date! We spent a little time chatting about about how they had gone for canal walks when they were first dating and they’d been married 40 years now!

In the early part of last week, as we scrambled to make sure that we could work from home, my walk to work included a stretch along the Royal Mile. By Tuesday, the street was quieter at 5 pm than I’ve seen it at 5 am. I’m proud of Edinburgh for that. We all must stay home. I’m so grateful I can stay home. So many other people’s hard work to provide food, power and water let alone security and healthcare is required that I can stay inside.

There’s a similarity, for me at least, with winter. Instead of cold weather, dark skies and rain / snow making staying inside the best option, it is concerns over other people’s, and my own, health. There is use in that comparison, I find, because I know how to cope with dark winters. We have Christmas, full of family, lights and food. We make warm drinks, sit by fires and watch fun movies. We sing carols, get in touch with old friends, and make fun things.

Quarantine doesn’t make it easy to do this. My family are hours away. Holiday cheer does not really seem appropriate. Luckily, we’re doing alright for food but I’m being careful with my grocery shopping not to put more strain on the system. As much as I love baking projects, now probably isn’t the time to go overboard.

Instead, I’ve been calling my family more. We’ve been sharing photos and recipes with each other. Working from home means I get to take out my teapot and my beloved tea cozy with the oversized pompom and drink special tea as I work. In the evening, I knit on my jumper and watch silly murder mysteries. To be fair, that’s the same as I usually do. Some amount of normality is needed regardless.

Can’t have a tea cozy without a giant pompom

When I started writing this post last Saturday, I felt quite bleak. A week later, the situation around me has gotten worse, but I’m more at peace with the role I need to play to help make the situation better. I feel so immeasurably grateful to the NHS, the shop workers and the police for keeping me safe. I’m doing what I can by staying home, in the hopes that it helps to protect them and save lives.

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