Food for Thought

Caro’s Covid Journal No 4  (11 weeks post op / 9 weeks post lockdown)

Warning: This post might tickle your taste buds!!

Through the Wound comes the Salve, We can find meaning in suffering.’  Who was it who said that? 

This morning, I went to hug my ash tree.  It is a magnificent tree and the only mature tree I have in my small pony paddock.  It must be at least 90 years old and once provided a cool, shady spot for my ponies.  But it is sick.  It has struggled to put on much growth for the past two years now and my neighbour is worried its overhanging branches will fall onto their outhouses.  The tree surgeon was puzzled and said it didn’t look like typical ‘die back’.  ‘Could it just be coming to the end of its natural life?’ I asked.  He seemed to think that was unlikely because they can grow very tall indeed.  But I’m not convinced.  We were sent a fee for cutting it down which would take three days and cost over £1,000.  My neighbour and I decided to see how it fares until the end of the month before we decide its fate.  But I fear the final decision will not be mine, anyway.  

I can’t help feeling empathy for my ailing tree.  I tried to send it as much healing energy as I could muster.  But like a fisherman who mends his nets when he can’t go to sea, I too am using this down time to mend my own battered body and soul.  Everything in nature is cyclical and there is a time for birth just as there is a time for death.  I realise, the fact that lockdown happened shortly after my big op, was no accident.  Yes, I have faced the prospect of dying but like my poorly tree, I am clinging to life for as long as I am able to throw out new shoots of hope.  Finding myself in this mother of all global staycations, self-isolation has positively forced me to venture within myself to find salvation.  It has forced me to take the time to slow down, take stock, mend and restore my own broken nets. 

We have all had to deal with personal challenges and probably face our demons at some stage during this pandemic.  Pre cancer diagnosis and lockdown, my quality of life had been stunted by my anxiety which only manifested hardship and misfortune.  Somehow, I have managed to shuffle off the trials and tribulations of the past few years and have finally arrived at a new happy place.  My new personal slogan: stay safe / stay nourished (in mind & body) / save lives! 

If I am unable to pay off my debts just now, I can at least find a balance to my re-energised quality of life.  And, more importantly, I can now smile, knowing that the troubles, the denials and setbacks were also my teachers and that my guides were working hard behind the scenes on my behalf.  Everything that happened needed to happen to bring me to my senses and a new awareness.  Now I feel nothing but gratitude for having arrived at this new place of realisation and understanding. 

Having achieved this new state of being is, in no small measure, by thinking very carefully about my diet.  (see no 2, in Food Matters: 7 Steps Back to Health – my own ‘Route Map’ back to health).  I have focused on what I put inside my body to kick-start the process for healing from within, starting with my gut health. Then by meditation, focusing right down to the basic, ’thinking’ cell levels of the body.  

Preparing simple meals for one, made from scratch with fresh ingredients full of prana.  For two days of the week, I’ve also cut back my intake to about 500 calories to gently nudge my compromised immune system back into action.   My search for nourishing, life enhancing foods has led me on a fascinating journey to discover a wealth of producers on my doorstep that I never would have found in normal circumstances.  Pre-lockdown, planned events noted in my diary have been crossed out and replaced with entries for days when boxes of wholesome foods are delivered, eagerly awaited with excited anticipation.  

Bantam eggs, purple sprouting broccoli and home-baked cheese scones still warm from the oven, can be picked up on my daily walks around the village from thoughtful neighbours who have put out these offerings on makeshift stalls outside their homes, in exchange for a small fee or a donation to a local hospice.  Fresh milk from Jersey cows can be siphoned into bottles from the nearby Manor Farm dairy, and wild garlic and mint can be foraged from the hedgerows to accompany fresh fish delivered from the fishmonger in Plymouth, or made into a mouth-watering risotto.  And to sweeten my squeezed lemon and ginger drink every morning, jars of locally sourced honey that come with the proverb, ‘Pleasant words are a honeycomb.  Sweet to the soul and healing to the bone’ 16:24. printed onto a little label stuck to the lid.  (Glory Bee Apiaries).  At £7.50 a jar, this is an expensive luxury, but worth every gloriously savoured, sticky spoonful.  While so many people are struggling to put food on their tables, I am so proud and grateful that my daughter has made sure I can at least afford to buy food.  My lockdown larder has never looked so good!

All these culinary delights, together with an occasional home made sourdough loaf made by my friend, Katie, who used to be a professional baker before she became a lawyer, are all worthy of cause for much celebration.  Not to mention the kindness of friends who volunteer to do my supermarket shopping or collect my medications.  And to crown my efforts, this week, I have finally made it onto a Riverford Organic fruit and veg box delivery round.  This weeks highlights include bunched carrots and asparagus, all with helpful recipes and tips.

And to enhance the ‘Chi’ or life force energy now surging through my body, I have rediscovered the joys of Qi Gong.  A form of  gentle, mindful exercises for connecting movements of your body with the rhythms of nature and the elements.  Useful for balancing internal yin and yang, your organs being the reserves of chi and your meridians the means by which chi can flow around your body.  It is a way of living more deeply in flow with nature and an ideal way of releasing emotional stress which has become locked into parts of your body.  I have only just started doing it, but this practice is already having a really positive effect and I am enjoying the effects of feeling my chi being restored to vitality once more.   My whippets, however, are not so convinced as they watch with concern and puzzlement on their little faces as I go through the motions, waving my arms around whilst making funny ‘hissy’ sounds with my breath.  But I would thoroughly recommend it for anyone who is feeling stressed at this time – or any other time, come to think of it.  

As I adjust to the new normal where every day feels like Sunday, I have found the time to come to terms with a future which I must trust will be safe, secure and full of abundance.  Abundance, after following Deepak Chopra’s 21 days of Abundance Meditation course (thank you Anja).  With a regular, daily walking routine and massive doses of therapy from my ponies and my whippets, I am growing stronger and healthier, in mind, body and spirit.  My former ‘dis-eased’ state of being  is gradually being transformed into a state of positive ‘ease’, no longer shackled by the past.  And for my next task: to master the art of ‘Zoom’!

And whilst we have all been busy ‘coping’ with the global crisis, nature has been quietly blossoming with an explosion of colour and new fecundity.  Birds are once more proclaiming their place in our gardens and our hedgerows and are being heard like never before, without having to compete with the constant background hum of machinery and traffic. 

And we have noticed the world has become a much quieter place, shattered only by the new weekly ritual of ‘whooping’, clapping and bashing of saucepans with wooden spoons. These noises ring out into the stilled evening air and are much welcomed as communities unite in appreciation of our key workers.   Even the skies above us are free from airborne engine noise, our planes having been grounded for the past 2 months, and vapour trails have disappeared from our blue skies.  Just as the quality of the air we breathe around the world has been improved beyond what could ever have been imagined since post-industrial pollution became the norm.   I just hope our world leaders and policy makers will sit up and take note, going forward?  (Less of the ingesting bleach or taking anti malaria tablets that can be fatal, to beat the virus, please!)

Meanwhile, Tommy the Connie and I bathe in the calming balm of blue as we navigate our way through the bluebells in the dappled light along the old drovers track on Liddaton Common.  Life, the way we have never experienced it before, goes on.  Even my old ash tree will live on after she is cut down……if that is to be her fate, by providing fuel to warm our bodies and souls in the coming winter months ahead.

Final thought goes to my poorly ash tree. Please can you send her a virtual hug?