The last few months have been a learning curve for all of us.
I remember reading and hearing with a distant and detached lack of concern that China was experiencing a new illness. The number of infected grew. There were deaths. I felt pity for them but it was all so far away, really it was no more than a passing thought. I certainly wasn't fearful that we were at risk, that 'the novel Corona Virus COVID-19' would dare to grace our emerald shores.
Months passed and I read on social media that Australia were in a bit of a crisis. Incredibly, it was because of the lack of availability of paper products. I thought it bizarre and it amused me. An epidemic of flu, causing people to hoard, of all things, toilet paper.
Italy became a hot spot, followed by Spain and it all started to become more real. This terrible illness was marching west. It was seeking us out, especially the old and vulnerable, and taking no prisoners on its way. From afar we marvelled at how swiftly this new influenza strain could move and how incapeable some of the countries seemed to be dealing with it. Different approaches were taken to thwart the new foe, but ultimately the planet, our home, ceased trading. Business ground to a halt as we were all urged and then commanded to stay home.
When the schools here in Ireland shut in March, there was initially excitement for the early Easter holidays. My ten-year-old son was delighted. We casually wondered how long it would last. Maybe a week or two we asked each other? Certainly not more. Little did we know that in August we would still be waiting to hear about school arrangements for the new academic year in September.
In a world that lacked any kind of normality, the front-line workers helped us to forge a path through. Hospitals continued to care for the sick and pharmacies provided us with medicines. Grainyards, vets and agricultural supply stores ensured that our animals could recieve the continued feed and care they needed. Supermarkets, local shops and garages supplied all of our day to day needs and allowed us, even while we were 'staying home' to function on a basic level. These are just to name just a few of the hero professions that enabled our country to remain 'ticking over'.
Thanks to this imposed period of staying at home, many were afforded time they wouldn't normally have. We were no different. The lambing season wound down and with the building sites closed, my husband Stephen did not have electrical contact work to return to - he stayed home, focusing on the farm while I tackled the garden. We divided and conquered: hanging gates, weeding, fencing on the farm and at home, we were able to make a wonderful start to the spring garden season, including the addition of a polytunnel, hens and some quail.
One of the things though that really struck me, was how lucky we were. Being based in rural Ireland, and in particular living on a farm, meant that our lives were impacted minimally. There was more time spent together for sure and the slightly stessful addition of 'home-schooling' but aside from that our days ran the same way they usually did. Checking sheep, breakfast, feeding lambs, lunch, dinner, checking sheep: a fluid cycle that keeps going around. Regardless of what happens, when you are farming, the animals have to be tended to: it keeps them happy, healthy and free of any notions about escaping into a neighbour's field.
One beautiful afternoon in May, I was upstairs at home, folding washing. The window had been thrown open wide and the birds were singing. It occured to me how quiet it was, so I stopped and listened. For a moment I was fascinated by the utter lack of noise. We live close to a road, so there is often the hum of passing vehicals - I'm so used to it I hardly hear it any more - but on this particular afternoon it really struck me how, with everybody sitting tight at home, it was beautifully peaceful. No cars, no motorcycles, no aeroplanes overhead. Just birds.
And then I heard it, not too far away in fact: the laughter of children at play outside. It was such a gleeful and excited sound that it made me smile. So much delight from doing something as simple as throwing a ball no doubt, or playing in the grass.
And there was that tiny idea for Misty Green Living: simplicity.
Nurturing ourselves on a basic level as a child does at play. Indulging in the primal urge for personal growth. But as we get older, of course our priorities change. We are concerned with more than just play. We have to take responsibility for ourselves and for our loved ones. We have to be able to provide for them: security of food and shelter.
If we can live more sustainably, say by buying local, we are reducing our impact on the planet, supporting local businesses and most importantly, we are eating better food that is seasonal, fresher, more nutritious, more delicious and ultimately has not travelled half way across the planet.
Naturally, if we can grow that food ourselves, its even better. And maybe, I thought, just maybe, I can help people to learn how to do that.