Old-fashioned Reminders Brought Home by COVID-19

Reader Contribution by Sarah Joplin
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As many in our nation and around the world face unprecedented challenges which understandably bring about fears of the unknown, some notions still commonplace in the country that are often considered old-fashioned seem worth revisiting as possible mitigation to some of these hardships and angst and as valuable reminders moving forward.

Keep a stocked pantry

This is a practical reality for many who live in a rural setting and a good idea for one and all. When stores aren’t nearby it becomes habit to keep enough staples on hand to last a little while. Growing and/or canning your own food also affords availability to fresh produce and the ability to preserve it yourself.

Take a breath and slow down.

Patience is still a virtue and can be trying, especially when times are hard. Keep breathing; the only constant is change so this, too, shall pass. Life in the country is not centered on convenience or speed, so patience is required. We live on gravel roads where travel is slow and sometimes precarious; rural living puts us a distance from towns making access to commercial goods a little more involved. We don’t have the fastest internet, nor FedEx delivery service. Inherently, we operate a little slower than our urban counterparts and expect things to take longer. This is no time to be in a hurry but then again, when is?

 You are not anonymous or alone

It is easy to feel anonymous in a concrete jungle in a sea of humanity, but remember that you are not an island; you are not alone.  Many people are getting to know their neighbors now that they are home from work with some time on their hands. Enjoy building these new connections.  In the country, you are outdoors as a way of life, so you naturally tend to see your neighbors. A spirit of collaboration still exists in rural communities where mechanical projects that require many hands on deck (think barn raising) still occur and where community hubs still include widespread churchgoing (complete with picnics and sewing circles), little league games, hunting and fishing seasons, and where large family gatherings are still commonplace. Meet your neighbors. Respect boundaries, but check in with them. Find out what you have in common.

Spend time outdoors

Get some fresh air. Many urbanites rarely touch the ground. The vast majority of their time is spent indoors. From their houses or apartments they walk out through their garages or directly onto sidewalks, climb into cars or buses and exit out onto parking lots or paved streets and proceed to work in buildings. The recommended social distancing practices to avoid contraction of the COVID-19 virus encourage outdoor activity either alone or in small groups. Take advantage and get some grass under your feet. Maybe it’ll become a new habit.

Treasure seeds

Grow something, if not from seed then from seedling or start. Not everyone has space or resources for a large garden which provides access to fresh food. Nearly everyone, though, has the ability to grow a container garden, even on a windowsill or patio. Gardening has multi-fold benefits including exercise (depending on how much you do-weeding, transplanting, bending, lifting, stretching), providing a sense of empowerment, exposing you to sunshine and ultimately providing something healthy to eat.

Partake of old-fashioned pleasures

When was the last time you played a board game? Went for a walk? Literally stopped to smell the flowers? Read a book? Did something creative? Played an instrument? Tackled one of those D-I-Y projects that sounded interesting? There are many “old fashioned”, low-tech, slow-down activities that we forego in favor of stimulation and consumption in the modern world. We do a lot of shopping and not as much creating. We do a lot of talking, chatting, texting, messaging, tweeting, emailing and less meaningful face-to-face conversation. We take less time to be quiet and listen to nature, to reflect and be in tune with the natural rhythms of seasons, even determining the time of day based on position of the sun rather than digital numbers on our smartphones. It sounds cliché, but there is value in remembering to take pleasure in the simple things. As we are learning, the more complex “things” and activities are not always an option.

Exercise community-mindedness

Thankfully, this comes naturally to some, whether in a rural or urban setting. Much of urban life goes on with the individual relatively isolated, anonymous. It is easy to put your ear buds in and go through a day in your private bubble. This is not so in the country. Even though we live physically apart, we are more interconnected and rely more heavily on one another. Join a club. Volunteer. Find a civic organization and get involved. We all have a lot to offer and everyone benefits from good citizenship.

The list goes on to include home cooking, “waste not, want not”, bartering and exercising common sense. For some of us living in the country, the COVID-19 pandemic may not be quite as much of a hardship because of the very nature of our way of life. Some of the resources many lack in cities are necessities in the country; some of the hardships people will endure are already commonplace to us; some of the behaviors necessary to combat the virus are just business as usual in rural America.

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