“ . . . looking back, I’m content, optimistic even.”
Did I mention Felix is 8 years old?
Two weeks ago, for the first time in over a year, I left the state of Washington. I received my second vaccine a month ago, and my sister (who is also vaccinated) and I had a hotel reservation in California that had been moved twice because of Covid. It could not be moved again. We would have to “use it or lose it.” So even though I had four ewes ready to lamb here on Whidbey, including one who looked very ready, off I went on my own “in-person” adventure. My housemate and newbie shepherd Meighan would be in charge of any lamb stuff while I was away.
My first stop was at my sister’s place in Oregon. By the time I arrived Meighan had already texted me to let me know that ewe I had been keeping an eye on had waited less than eight hours after I left to give birth to twins. Meighan the “newbie shepherd” would be learning by doing.
The next day my sister and I traveled on to California. (First night at a hotel since last year). We spent time in Yosemite, where I often go to restore my soul. The rocks and the waters did just that.
Then we headed off for some time with the woman who had been the neighborhood mom when we were growing up. She is 92 now and lives on her own a little south of Yosemite. Through this year of isolation I have wondered and worried about her. It took just a few minutes together for me to see she was as feisty as ever. (First time eating in a restaurant in a year)
After that connection, we drove to Berkeley to spend some time with more family members. The youngsters in that family treated us to an impromptu cello recital (First indoor music since March 2020). Then on to Santa Cruz and even more family. Finally, after a week away, we turned north to head back home.
On my way home I stopped again in Oregon, where I was thrilled to have an “in-person” meeting of my great-nephew. Next week he will turn one. Until I held him last week, I had only seen him on zoom, or on videos my sister shared with me when she took him on walks.
He did a double take, looking at my sister and then at me and then back at my sister. He was clearly trying to figure something out. Then he let me pick him up. (First time holding a baby in over a year).
While I was away, I also got my hair cut. (First time since January 2020). I have now shed the “wild-haired prophet,” or alternatively the “crazy clown” look that has grown more pronounced as our isolation has continued.
Finally, after eight days away, I made it home to my Whidbey farm. My trip had been delightful. It had also been a reminder of how much has changed in the world and within myself. I was more vigilant and cautious than I have ever been. Even with folks who were fully vaccinated, I hesitated with hugs. I found it hard to relax.
I know we still have an unknown journey ahead. I know we all are carrying different loads in this time. Some are still in isolation. Some have never been able to isolate. The heartbreak of this time continues. This week we have heard the news from India of the devastating outbreak of corona virus there, after government officials had declared the pandemic over and lifted restrictions. In Washington there has also been a surge. We are dealing with a cruel and relentless virus. This is not the time to become complacent.
But we are also hearing stories of hope and emergence. More people are getting vaccinated. In many places, infection rates are trending downward. We do seem to be close to turning a corner.
When I arrived home last week I met the two lovely lambs Meighan had been tending. She did an excellent job as newbie shepherd, handling even the complications with skill. And the day after I got home, a second ewe had her lamb, a healthy baby boy.
So after my first “in-person” experience, how do I feel? Actually, a lot like my young friend Felix. Looking back, I am content. Optimistic, even. May it be so for you as well.