It was early March and Charlotte (our older daughter) had just arrived from Holland to escape the Corona virus that was starting to rage there, accompanied by my sister Sabine - who wanted to hold on to a planned trip despite our nephew's wedding having been cancelled. Everything was still open and nobody was thinking about masks. We went on an extended family excursion to our farm in Montague to do some early Spring work there, when a call from our brother Joris told us that Sabine had to get on a plane back home right away, because all flights from the US are being shut down without further notice. That was it. And so began the COVID-19 time period.
Everybody has their own unique, bizarre, unexpected, painful and/or touching stories from this time (which is still on-going as I write). I am sure that nobody expected lock-downs and masks - not here in the West! And yet, it happened.
After Sabine left, four of us were here in our Needham house, Mark and myself, and our two young adult daughters. It was the first time we had been living together in almost six years. There was no option of escape or distraction. Families around the world faced the same situation of course; it was a time that manifested the true depth and color of the relationships in all those houses and apartments. For us, it was a time when we were able to heal some deeply ingrained patterns. I am not sure how many years we might have needed were it not for COVID and the lockdown, or if we might have succeeded at all. Our farm helped us, providing grounding and space where COVID limited our options. For 2 or 3 days a week, Charlotte or Josephine and I went out to Montague/Greenfield, stayed in our house there and worked on the farm. Farming was an "essential" business, so we were allowed to drive out to Montague on nearly deserted highways (we felt a bit illegit, since our farm was technically and actually not producing anything essential at all ... on the other hand, we were not seeing another soul when we were on our land, so we were not spreading the virus either). We worked out a number of deep hurts relating to respect, expectations, and feeling welcomed through practical issues. For example: when does lunch break (finally) start and when does the workday end (I'm hungry again!). Or, are my hoop house bends looking good enough? (I feel like they are never good enough). And we were buoyed by moments of joy and triumph like when the baby Marans chicks arrived and our Easter Egger chicks hatched, as well as the incredible silliness of raising all 80 chicks illicitly in a fancy Boston suburb using our attic and our shed.
It was amazing. We were actually all pretty sad when it ended after six months, and first Josephine, then Charlotte moved to Greenfield while Mark and I stayed in Needham. Thank you to our farm project!