The Tunnel

I have been trying to write to you for weeks but every time I reread the words I wrote they seem unhelpful, foreign even. Written by a sad person. But here you are – a bunch of unrelated beginnings:

I don’t know which days I wrote them:

Do you feel like you have been living in a tunnel. I do. I watched a little frog hop into the bushes last night ahead of my booted feet – it is wet and warming up so the little frogs are out – it was like the tiniest of shadows, insubstantial, a tiny ghost caught in my eye then gone. I feel like this frog, scuttling to and fro along my designated pathways of mill to farm to mill to farm, forced to move on only two tired legs, not quite sure why things are thus.

Then: I have not written lately because this is how I think now. Maudlin and cast down.

Another day I wrote this: Breath has become our enemy. Mouths are covered. Ears strain forward from elastic bands. We focus on eyes, we are masters now at reading eyes.

Then this: I am searching for more masks for my mill people. Everything is going to take weeks to be delivered. I will not buy the disposable masks used by more important people. Even if I could find them. I leave those for the more important people. I search for American made ones. Ones made from the left overs of other projects like shirts or hoodies.

Everyone only tolerates wearing the masks but me. I feel safe behind one. My face can rest. I let my eyes do the talking. I feel less ‘seen’ but I am behind a mask fourteen hours a day so I also feel suffocated and confined. I need to find more filters.

Hmm: just discovered that there is no space in my little abattoir for my beef cows. With the big slaughter houses closed my little place is booked up to February. 2021! The hogs will be even longer. This is all no good. Nothing I can do about that problem. But no meat for us for a while.

And: I have decided to take the Airbnb offline. It is my safe place now. And people make me nervous.

This: I still have been nowhere but the mill and the farm. Since this all began. Since just after I got back from New Zealand. In fact I feel as though I might never go anywhere again.

This entry: The world as we know it is gone. We are facing an uncertain future. We are. Due to aggressive proactive measures ‘ shelter and wait’ the human loss has been mitigated but at a terrific cost to our futures. I believe this minute organism, so small it can be carried on and expelled by breath, yet replicates 2000 times faster than a cold and has big teeth, is the catalyst of a new way of living. This will not be the first pandemic to hit our modern delicate biological systems. We need to be always ready now. Plan ahead.

But we are herd animals. We collect in tribes. In years past these tribes and villages did live close and safe – connections were at yearly gatherings or fairs. A funeral was a village affair – a wedding the same. People did not wander far. The biggest cities were always dangerous, beset with disease and strife. But we need our tribe – we need to gather.

So, In a way this is not new. Staying in our patches. A mill feeding her village and sending flour in sacks to the big towns bakers is old. Going to a local farm to buy your eggs and milk is old. Having large country gardens and city gardens is old.

A later thought: I have just realized that my Green Card never came. The immigrant service must have been disbanded. Immigration is at a stand still here in the U.S. and my application seems to have been caught up in the slow down. I am not alarmed. The repercussions of being illegal would include eviction from the U.S. I would want to self isolate for a long time before I could see my family though. But NZ feels safer to me now. I did complete the application procedure so I think that should help whenever that big machine starts up again.

And this morning.: Sheila and Poppy are well. Sheila is so much happier now that it is warm. Wai and Tima get on alright but do not choose each other’s company.

Mr Flowers limps about curling his bad foot under and using it as a crutch but when he flies out of the barn in the morning he is still our regal jewel.

I have lost two of the new pigs to some ailment. I wormed them and the vet sent antibiotics but still two died fast and the rest still have not started to really thrive. One is still particularly unwell but I am determined not to give up. I carry him out into patches of deep weeds and grass for the day. He eats out there and is drinking again but still very unsteady.

Dogs are good. Cats are all present and correct. The chickens are laying and the ducks have taken us over. One is sitting on eggs right next to the front door in the garden by the deck.

She is well camouflaged.

Today for the first time in what feels like forever the sun is out.

I think sun will help.

Take care my darlings – sorry to talk so much about myself. But I feel foggy and out of focus. I have lost my sense of being and am just waiting now. Like some of you maybe. Lucky I have a very busy job. But still a large part of my Self has curled up by the fire with her back to the world. Still. Gathering my forces maybe. But deep down. I have gone deep.


63 Comments on “The Tunnel

  1. I think you have just articulated what we all feel. What will be next?

  2. You are right to make it your safe place, to make your place safe. Love the photo of the duck so well camouflaged.
    The third day with strong winds today, I long for the sun now, my ears are tired from the storm.

  3. I have retreated into my “happy” bubble. I live on my own and keep myself amused watching TV, internet, playing games, communicating with my children by calls, video calls and texts. Thank heavens for technology. But I feel so disconnected. Here in England we are allowed outdoor picnics with one person so I met up with one of my daughters and my newborn granddaughter which helped my mental health no end.
    Take care XXX

  4. Things will get better. Here in France we started deconfinement 2 weeks ago and all is going very well. Full deconfinement in 1 week. It is amazing how quickly we all adapt to changes in our lives, both good and bad. Hang in there. Nothing lasts forever.
    Happiness is all a state of mind.

  5. I just feel like talking to you. A message won’t do. But I don’t want to disturb your bubble. I am strangely, uncharacteristically optimistic. But that may be because we dealt with it all so differently here. Without the rancor. And the me-first selfishness. People put their heads down and did what was best for everyone. There is still danger, but we bonded doing that. We all cared for each other for the most part. x

  6. I was a little worried that we haven’t heard from you in awhile. After 10 weeks we have slowly started phase 1 of our reopening. Schools will not reopen though, online learning will continue until the end of the school year. This will pass but we must all be very careful even when things start to go back to “normal”. I worry that people will not heed medical advice anymore and we end up back in lockdown. Only time will tell. Stay safe.

  7. I have missed you, Celi, & all the characters at the Farmy & in the Lounge. I checked several times back through my emails to make sure I hadn’t missed a post, but knew you were doing vital work. I saw a feature on the PBS Newshour that the historic Mill on the River Stour in Constable Country had started up again to produce flour for the neighboring communities, so great was the need for great British bakers. I’m sorry Covid 19 has ruined so many of your plans. I’ve been reading Notre Dame de Paris with my online book group & believe me if anything in the world could make me appreciate this dire & battered time & place, it is the harrowing life of France in the Middle Ages when there were horrors, filth, inhumanity, ignorance, cruelty, plague & disability beyond imagining. Though Victor Hugo did. If I weren’t so gripped I’d toss it. To lighten up I’ve rewatched on youtube several old tv series I enjoyed years ago, The Rector’s Wife, from a novel by Joanna Trollope, & The Cazalets, from a novel by Elizabeth Jane Howard. Those families had only to persevere & overcome stifling patriarchy & war. So I am pressing on. My neighbor is coming later this afternoon for gin & tonics on the back porch, so I must get out there & discourage the persistent hornets buzzing about the wicker for nesting sites. At least they aren’t Murderers! A small blessing.

  8. I am profoundly glad that you posted Miss C. Connections to others are so easily slipping away as we sit in our own bubbles of existence. Time has stopped, and without digital assistance and reminders of expectations and responsibilities I find it too easy to forget individual days, or even that others exist.
    Stay well friend. I, like so many others, miss you and miss this collective group. I hope that everyone is remaining steadfast until we can come out from this shadow.

  9. So good to hear from you with this post. I know it’s hard now, but I echo others comments in saying that this, too, shall pass. And I do hope we come out of it better people, with more care and concern for others and for some of the simpler ways.

  10. Sending love and virtual hugs to you Celi and everyone in our Fellowship of the Farmy.

  11. I have missed you! Each morning I check my email to see if you have posted, so I was really happy to see you waiting this morning. For whatever reason, I’ve wondered if you have been feeling ok–meaning spiritually/emotionally. I’ve wondered if you are feeling trapped because you know you cannot easily get to your family in NZ. I’ve wondered if your work was distressing because there’s such an urgency in filling orders in this pandemic. I’m glad to see your post, but sorry that my thoughts about you were so on point. I don’t write often, but I am thinking about you each morning and hoping that you are all right. Clearly you are managing, but it sounds like you are really missing the joyous part of yourself and your life. Does it help to know that many, many people are wishing you well and sending warm thoughts through the air to you?

  12. It’s been a bit like Groundhog Day here, but the sun has been shining a lot and it definitely helps. I go out cycling everyday, exercise is allowed and combined with the sun it keeps one relatively happy.
    As the others have said, things will get better – there is always hope.
    You have been missed!

  13. I have been wondering how you’ve been doing, knowing you’re so busy and that rest is essential to a positive outlook. Without cohesive leadership it falls to us to find our best way through. But that works best when we can do so together. Know that we’re thinking of you and each other.

  14. What a wonderful surprise to find at the beginning of the day! We are a group – friends – the farmy family to me. You are so busy now – even more than before, it seems. But doing a vital service in making good, clean, solid, and safe food available. Happy to know the animals are doing well, including the stoic Mr. Flowers. You are our friend – and if I may speak for all of us – please feel free to vent, rant, laugh, cry, whatever the need – at any time. We are truly scattered all around the world, so someone is thinking of you around the clock! Isn’t that a bit of a comforting thought? We are all just that little mouse-click away. We are all yours. Any and all will listen quietly and send you as many good thoughts and virtual hugs as we can. Take a deep breath whenever possible and consider… we are becoming, not adapting.

    I came to Colorado from Missouri last year to retire, but found a new focus with the National Park. Now, after being totally closed, the Park opens on Wednesday – we seasonal rangers begin work tomorrow in preparation for what will come with the flocks of visitors.

    Nothing beats good soap and water!!

  15. You have articulated what a lot of us are feeling. For me, being newly retired, I do not have the stress of work. I rarely leave the ranch and when I do, I feel like an alien behind my mask venturing out. I buy my groceries and go directly back to the ranch, unload, and there I stay for the next two weeks. We have closed our ranch to WWOOFers — they would need to fly to get here and then what… sit in quarantine here for their entire stay? No sharing of time in the kitchen, working shoulder-to-shoulder in the garden? What’s the point. Being older, I (like you) welcome the security wearing a mask gives me; the distance. But all around me are demonstrations and people shouting about “freedom” to infect themselves and others. Apparently, us retired folks are expendable. It’s a sad time for sure. Try to take a few deep breaths here and there, enjoy your airbnb space, try to nurture yourself as best you can.

  16. I’m delighted to hear you are still up and running but that may be part of the problem. This extreme emotional stress is taking a tole on everyone and I find I need more rest than normally. You may not be getting enough time for good deep rest. Your writing tells quite the story of how all this is taking you to places you would rather not be. Once it warms and the sun is our, I think all our moods will lift a bit. We will get 3 days of sun and very hot then back to cold and wet. We have no where to turn during these dreary days to lift our spirits. Please be very kind and gentle with yourself right now. Working hard with animals and nature is a different thing than working hard in the mill. Sending you giant squishy hugs.

  17. So glad to see you post. I was hoping all was well with you and yours. I certainly connected with many of your “starts”. And your tunnel analogy is certainly appropriate. I am very happy that our weather is turning to having more sun in them than greyness.
    I have been busy making masks. I make mine from leftover quilt projects not t-shirts or hoodies but if you are still in need of some, I would be happy to send some. Just let me know.
    Be well.

  18. I am so glad to see your post this morning. I knew you were busy at the Mill, as I have ordered twice now. And received a note with your name on it.

    I am baking nearly daily and think of you and the Mill with every loaf. I am so thankful you introduced us to the Mill. But I am sorry you are so tired from your long days working there.

  19. Its great to hear from you, I was thinking of you the other day and wondering if you were ok. It is horrid isn’t it and very strange, but at least the weather here has been good so that has helped a lot. I haven’t seen my grandchildren for ages now, which is horrid as I’m used to seeing them most days. I’m very lucky in that respect. Hopefully I will be able to see them soon. I hope you start to feel more like your old self soon, and the rest of the fellowship keep well and stay safe.

  20. C- your blog post reflects a lot of what people are going through. So far we are doing fine- we know of no one who has been ill thank goodness. Where we lived in California near Mt Shasta only 6 people have been ill in this very large county. More here in Vancouver WA- but no one we know and no one in our neighborhood. I think you are working very hard at home and at the Mill which must be exhausting and at the same time rewarding. I thinnk the sunshiine will help restore you. I have been letting friends/family/neighbors know about the Mill so I hope that helps the business. Smart to close the AirBnb for the moment. Take care and know we all love you and your farm with all the character filled animals. Lots of hugs and love to you and your family.!

  21. I wish I could find the right words to helpmyoumin some small way. Sending much love x

  22. I’m trying to think of this as a terribly necessary reset for our planet. While I worry about the survival of those I love and everyone else exposed to this virus–I also worry that we will come out of this (and we will come out of this at some point) the same selfish, greedy, angry people we were going in (at least in the U.S.). I remember my mother talking about how everyone came together in the world wars, making sacrifices for the common good. This is another kind of war, but that unity of purpose, that devotion to our collective well-being is not to be seen. What keeps me hopeful is the dozens of little acts of kindness I see around me every day, and the return of unpolluted skies and waters around the world…even the return of wild animals to their original habitats. This pandemic is a tragedy, and it might be a long-lasting one–but the most deadly tragedy will be if we don’t change our behaviors (and our federal and state policies) as a result of this experience–drastically reduce industrial agriculture, eat less meat, protect water quality and open spaces, walk more and drive less, use water more responsibly, reduce income inequity between workers and executives, pay attention to the origins of what we buy and the politics of corporations that sell it, take better care of each other, and generally think of living smaller, more responsible lives. We HAVE to come out of this isolation with a deep understanding of our direct connection to each other and to the earth, and with fierce commitment to making sacrifices and changes that ensure EVERY human being and animal has the opportunity to lead a decent, healthy life. You have long been a sort of beacon for that lifestyle–aware, no waste, self-sufficient, low consumption, compassionate. I thank you for that, and wish you the energy, time, and heart to continue down that path. We need many many many more like you!

  23. I completely get that feeling of just doing, everything feeling sort of odd and not quite real, but also feeling very present and intense. I’m not working as hard as you are. I still have to go to work, but my hours have diminished. So in a strange way it’s more of a relaxing time, or would be if my job wasn’t so closely related to tracking the financial health of the company I work for. And right now – it’s gasping. We are holding fast to life preserver the government threw, but I keep thinking – this is going to go on much longer than that life preserver is going to last.

    BUT – tomatoes got planted this weekend. Somehow ended up with 5 tomatoes and I’m a single woman living alone. But it just happened and I have decided to obsess about tomatoes all summer – because it’s a good thing I can tangibly do for my mental health. And everyone loves to be given a good tomato. So sharing is a thing I can do for others.

  24. It’s good to hear from you. I hope you are managing to rest. It’s hard to muster up any amount of positivity when we’re all so tired, and I think the uncertainty of it all makes everything worse. But there will be light at the end of the tunnel.

  25. I think of you ever day, Celi. For us the lockdown isn’t really any different that our usual day-to-day life, other than ordering groceries and going to just pick them up instead of going inside and shopping. We had a beautiful sunrise yesterday and a rainbow, tall and bright late afternoon and the sunset colors on towering thunderheads in the east that evening. We have a chipmunk who asks for peanuts and a couple squirrels who do the same, all are entertaining and lighten the days with their antics.
    We decided no to worry about that dratted disease, the actual data is starting to come in and, while many have died, it seems there have been a lot of unfortunate decisions made about what we “should” do. The majority of Illinois has a very low exposure rate, mostly Chicago and there are many people here who refuse to wear masks or stay a reasonable distance from others.
    Take time to breathe, rest and take care of yourself.

  26. Well Violet Hoarder said it right. What happened to the WWII spirit of sacrifice, of pulling together ? Thank god NZ has it together. Would that we had decent leadership!
    I am so grateful to know that you and the farm are still with us. I was worried. I know your work at the mill is critical, but the selfish me wants you home with your creatures and sunflowers ~~where I want to be. Relieved to hear the dogs are okay and Wai and Tima at least get along if not best buddies. I love how you describe Mr. Flowers. You’re a poet still, Cecilia.
    I’m sorry to hear about your abattoir booked nearly a year away! This certainly doesn’t help. Please know we think of you so very often and hope this too shall pass.

  27. The only one that can save us is our Creator. Pray just pray. I can’t imagine 14 hours behind a mask. I just a mask for necessary errands when I am out. 14 hours! My guess is that you are inhaling back in the carbon dioxide back in that should go back to the trees, that’s why you are feeling disoriented. You need to find a place away from other people where you can just breathe in fresh air like all normal humans should during the day.

  28. Thank you for posting. It’s nice to hear from my extended blogging ‘family’. I feel very isolated otherwise. In fact, I only talk face to face with people once every 10-14 days when I go grocery shopping and then it’s in and out and home again.

  29. I missed you. I thought I had somehow been signed off the list. I feel strange here in central Canada. I was down in Mexico, everything calm and lovely. My sons started voicing alarm, so the dog and I drove back through a strange landscape, to stay safe at home.
    I am being careful and find that the mask feels like a magic shield. I know it won’t protect me, but it warns others off. No barking required.
    I’m coming out of weeks of feeling depressed. I think the spring warmth is helping as well as watching the white American pelicans soaring and banking in flight Take care and be safe. The Farmery is here for you.

  30. Thank you everyone for all your comments and especially to you Celi. Your post mirrored so many feelings. I am in central Canada, close to Toronto one of the highest numbers in our country. My son lives there and it is scary for him. I wish I knew where all your posts were from. Perspectives from around the world. I so enjoyed reading your reflections and concerns. I’m retired so working is not an issue for me but my heart goes out to those who do. What a stressful time. I went to town yesterday and decided to go through a drive through car wash. Once the ticket was purchased, me masked up, the old guy in front of me not (I cringed, for him for me), I drove through. It was so nice. I sat silent as my car was washed just like normal, no need to mask up, I leaned back and just enjoyed being washed, safe in my car bubble. Funny the effect it had on me. Oh to be back into the world feeling safe.

  31. Your efforts are Nobel. If heading deep is taking care of yourself, so be it. As long as you’re making time for nutring self care. The Lounge has always been a significant part of your self care, time for you. We are here and we care about your wellbeing. Thank you for sharing your voice with us.

    • July 8, 2015, “I hope you have a lovely day. Or, more importantly I hope you see some loveliness today and recognise it and let it calm you. Life is so full of holes we can fall down. But life sends us these moments of joy like little lines of rescue. So I wish for you plentiful moments of loveliness.

      Love your friend on the farm


      This Miss C. This.

  32. I wrote a long letter of…I don’t know what. Thoughts I guess and it all went away. Please know you are thought of so very often. Yes thank you for this post, despite feeling disoriented and really preferring to retreat. We’re here. And we’ll be here. Please take care of you!

    • I see you lovely! And Sheila thanks you for her monthly box of apples! Though soon I will have to make her apple pie as her teeth are not so good anymore!

  33. Three times I’ve written and finally I’ve been able to post. Just so happy to know you’re okay and ditto what everyone else said.

  34. Better out than in, They say… so often it is true. Better to air those words and feelings. Tunnel hadn’t occurred to me but it is apt. We are waiting for either the train to hit us or the light at the other end… and sometimes I fear the limbo of simply being endlessly trapped in it. Each of us have anxieties particular to our circumstances. The G.O. and I feel like we’ve been practising for something like this for some time… living modestly… and are coping well with day-to-day life on the plus side. Our concerns are long term health and wellbeing for ourselves, family & friends, human population of the earth and the earth itself… it is doing much better these days of living lightly… but if our new normal is a return to the old normal then we are on the same terrible trajectory.

  35. I watch for your post every day. You have echoed what is in my head.

  36. Was so very glad to see your name in the box this morning. Have thought about you and been worried seeing what is happening in the US and Illinois Wished you had been able to face this huge turmoil in the world ‘at home’. Jacinda Ardern and her government have done a magnificent job in New Zealand. We were hit early and hard . . . we responded hard and that has borne fruit. Personally I have been lucky, somewhat because of living semi-rurally . . . methinks my surviving some six years of bombs, strafing, being an unwanted refugee, seeing people shot, raped, dehumanized . . . has left me with a firm belief of ‘one day that will be over’ . . . have just lived for the ability of working and sharing and loving others in the community more than ever before . . . be well and look after yourself . . ..

  37. Oh, Ceci! SO very happy to see your name in my box – just couldn’t open it – some glitch! My husband had a heart attack just as all of this had started. We were able to save him and the day he was released from the hospital was the day they closed it to all visitors. We and home care folks got through this. He certainly has a different outlook on life, just as Violet Hoarder said, I hope it will last, too, for all the world. C – your highest happy emotions match in height to your deepest emotions…You are able to touch the skies or reach the fathoms of the oceans, other people who do not embrace the zest for life that you do, can’t experience this phenomenon. I hope you are on the rise at this point, and you must know how many, many people care about you! Huge cyber hugs, Sunny (Violet, are you Lavender now from lack of sun – chuckle!)

  38. Thank you for thinking of us. Your Farmy Family worries… I think it’s perfectly normal for thoughts to spiral inwards and for the brain to fix on less happy things when there is such fear and global mess all around us. Although here we are slowly being allowed to expand our activities, using sensible caution, I find I don’t really want to go and mingle with other people much unless there’s clear air to breathe between us. I think you must be very, very tired now. I wish I could take on your work for you for a few days so you can sleep, breathe, look at the sun, commune with your animals and sit on your porch and watch the world go by, just for a bit.
    BTW, I got the email notification of this post, but it hasn’t appeared in my Reader. I bet you posted it from your phone – that seems to be a problem with more than one blog I follow.
    Virtual hugs – you can imagine them as coming from whoever you badly need a hug from right now. xxx

  39. Yes, it’s like a tunnel sometimes, or like being stuck, but I think we can make something new from it. It may just take a while.

  40. Thank you for sharing your insights, and feelings. We have all been sorting out the good and bad these days. It is astonishing how little we seem to actually need. The schedules of others have come to a standstill, while we find ourselves more involved with the land, the wind, the sun, and the farm, and thankful for the many distractions from the media and stories. A new normal is about to envelop us all!

  41. I often think of wildlife during times like this. They go to their shelter or home and stay there, licking their wounds and taking the time they need to heal. The pandemic hasn’t affected me so much except that Forrest is working from home, and that may continue for a long while. I am waiting to see how this changes things – how we live. I think it can all be good, if we are open to it and embrace gratitude, and not panic and fear. For now, I feel a time of rest is necessary. You do so much, Celi. Find your little den of comfort and hole up to rest when you can. I still think of us finding soft layers of fallen leaves and just laying back, looking up at the sky and enjoying “being” for a little while with nature.

  42. I feel like we’re sitting across a garden from one another. A vast, luscious garden, riotous with food for one another, for the bees and butterflies and other bugs. For the air and soil and sky.
    Quiet shared solitude.
    My parents make washable/reusable cloth masks with a pocket for removing the filter before washing. They’ve shipped out over a hundred to clinics and such but the need there has tapered off. How many does the mill need?

  43. If the sun helps, you might try taking some Vitamin D. Out here in the Northwest, the Sun is a treasured commodity and many of us lack sufficient vitamin D. I’ve been tested and am chronically low. I’ve learned that, when I’m feeling depressed and hopeless, I need to make sure to take my supplement and then, very quickly, I start feeling better. The problems still exist, but they become soluble instead of overwhelming.

  44. Ah. You have summed up my couple of weeks as well. I feel like a feather trapped in a chain link fence…..

  45. There is light at the end of the tunnel, Cecilia.
    This shall pass too.
    As you dive deep,
    Those depths will define you,
    Those depths will dust you and decorate you,
    To help you Bloom with the Pleasant Fragrance of Life!!
    Stay safe and healthy, everything will be fine.

  46. My thoughts drifted to you this morning, Miss C. Hope you are all well. Change is one of the few certainties in this life, and I am hoping for the positive. Sending you peace.

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