This week I’ve felt that cabin fever common to the end of February– only more intense after a year of the pandemic. Spring is ahead, less than a month away and that always brings a burst of energy with the emerging crocus and flowering daffodils. Our governor lifted some of the restrictions and that feels like an outward sign that things are getting better– finally.
After binge watching Virgin River on Netflix last week, the latest romantic drama that’s caught my attention, I’ve felt the urge to visit that area. While the story is based in Northern California, those gorgeous river scenes are actually the Sqamish River in British Columbia, Canada.
I felt like I was inhaling that evergreen-fragranced air as Mel, the main character, took her daily run through the forest. It reminded me of February of 2008 when I saw the movie, Snow Falling on Cedars and was mesmerized by the setting– also in the Pacific Northwest. Like Virgin River, the setting was a main character and drew me in as much as the story line. Seeing Snow Falling on Cedars is what led me to take a trip to San Juan Island, Washington the following summer. I wrote about that journey in my memoir, He Heard My Voice (Ch.VII Follow Your Whim: San Juan Islands, WA).
While watching Virgin River, I started making my tentative plan to go on my next solo journey to British Columbia (B.C.) and remembered, Beverly, a friend from Calgary, Canada. She was at the retreat I attended at the Abbey in Iona, Scotland in September 2017. We were kindred spirits– both of us taking solo trips, invigorated by the exploration of new places and the confidence we gained through traveling. We talked about our desire to walk the ancient pilgrim path– the Camino in Northern Spain.
Beverly and I have emailed since Iona and she once mentioned visiting a friend in Vancouver, B.C. I thought I might email her now and see if she’d be interested in meeting me there to hike. After being alone so much during the pandemic, I’m rethinking solo journeys and will look at future journeys spending some time traveling in tandem with another person.
A couple of years ago, Beverly asked me if I’d be interested in walking the Camino. Things came up and we didn’t pursue that plan. How serendipitous it felt last week when I was daydreaming about a trip to B. C., considering contacting her and then she sent me an email. She shared with me the Virtual Camino Walk that’s being planned as an international effort to help the hostels which have been closed during the pandemic and are struggling. (See link that follows this post)
Now, after almost a year of being locked down in North Carolina, I would love to head out to British Columbia; but Canada hasn’t opened up for tourist.
I was also contacted this past week by my cousin, Kim. She was in my hometown for her work and said it always reminded her of being with our family. She used to visit Mama at Parkview during those trips.
Our mothers were first cousins, like sisters, and like best friends. In my memoir, (sounds like another plug, huh?!) you read about them in Chapter VIII The History Tour: Harper’s Ferry, WV to Harrisburg, PA. Kim’s mother, Yvonne, and my mother, Mary set off at nineteen to attend training in Harrisburg, PA in order to work as civil servants in the WWII effort. They were very close all of their lives.
When Yvonne died in 2018, her final wish was for Kim to scatter her ashes in Skye, Scotland. That’s the homeland of Kim’s maternal grandmother’s family, the McDonalds. Kim asked me if I would accompany her since I’d traveled in Scotland and since our mothers were so close. We would be like our mothers’– traveling together and getting to know the world and each other during the journey.
We’d planned to go last September, but then the pandemic stopped us.
When we talked last week, Kim and I spoke of our hopes for our trip, and even put a tentative date of going in September 2022. We ended our call, giving ourselves the assignment of coming up with places besides Skye that we wanted to visit. I felt hopeful, more like myself just talking about the trip, envisioning new sights–especially the dramatic landscape of Skye.
Now, I’m ready to plan for our adventure in Scotland next year, anxious to fly away and discover–more of Scotland and more about my cousin; but Scotland hasn’t opened yet for travel and it’s uncertain when that’ll happen.
I’m left with some cabin fever–seeing what’s outside the cabin but not able to leave– not just yet.
What I do have is what I’ve learned from this year of the pandemic–what I have come to value.
When you’re not busy with activities, running to and fro, there is time to settle into a long phone conversation with a friend. There are friends I know much better now than I did a year ago.
When you’re not busy with activities, you have time to clean out the clutter in your life. I’ve gone through more items in dividing up our household, moving, and organizing a new home than I would have accomplished in a typical year.
When you limit your physical contact, especially during cold and flu season, you’re not as likely to get sick from all that floats in the air with un-masked people in stores, at concerts, at dance venues, in church etc. I haven’t had a respiratory infection all year– unusual for me.
When you’re slowed down by a pandemic, you’re able to feel a different rhythm–maybe a healthier one that has a kinder pace. Because there’s not so many things on your agenda, you can be more relaxed in the moment with less preoccupation about what’s coming next. While I’ve missed my Sunday evening swing dances tremendously, I do feel more relaxed those afternoons, not watching the clock for when I must get ready; the time just stretches out before me.
I think many of us are feeling cabin fever, restless to move forward into spring and a greater freedom to move about. We have our sights fixed on a more hopeful horizon– a view of the things we’re longing for. Before we leave our cabin, may we take an account of what we have gained by being within those limiting walls that have confined our view but also helped us to focus on what is essential.
How About You?
What have you gained during the past year of the pandemic?
What are you most looking forward to when we’re able to return to a more normal life?
Website for the Camino Virtual Walk