As I See It: Catherine Drea’s fortnightly column as published in the Waterford News & Star
I STILL find it hard to believe that we are living through a pandemic. It has shrunk my world to these four walls. It’s a place I love and feel safe in for sure, but it has started to feel smaller and smaller.
My brain seems to be shrinking too as a result of being so rooted to the spot. A few projects have been keeping me going. Firstly, I’ve been rummaging through photographs of the travelling we did over the years. Cuba, Greece, New York, France, Portugal, Italy, Kerry, London, Sweden, Australia. I’m so glad we made time to get to those places, because right now I’d give anything to be on the road again. Meanwhile, the reminiscing is very sweet.
Another project has me trawling through overflowing boxes of family photos, going back to the early 1900s. I’ve chatted to cousins about the early photos and identified relatives I had lost the names of. So I’m digitising photographs now and next I will have to try to add names and dates. A family tree was mentioned, but I think I have managed to long finger that for another while!
‘If I seem to be talking like it’s all over, I am very well aware that it is not. Like the rest of ye, I’m hanging in is all.’
Besides the daily walking, pottering about in the garden, and cooking, I’ve been trying to explore other ways of staying active in a time when all I want to do is lie down somewhere. So one thing I have returned to is painting. This activity creates oodles of doodles and they are starting to take over my space. Weirdly many of these tiny paintings look like the corona virus or some version of that ominous purple spikey ball!
Now that they are blooming again, I can’t pass a drift of foxgloves without getting stuck in and photographing them from every possible angle. Of course I have taken pictures of them for as long as I can remember. But this pastime never grows old. You see, the light changes all the time, every flower is unique and there is something about these moments in nature that stops time. It can almost feel like I am seeing everything anew. Time and memory warp weirdly when you are in the midst of nature.
Part of what I attempt to do, in keeping with the National Pollinator Plan and the recording of biodiversity in the County, is to photograph and share images of wildflowers, insects, bees, butterflies, trees, animals and birds online. Anyone can upload information to the National Biodiversity Centre Website. I was thrilled to record an early cuckoo and to follow the nesting of birds around me. I always say that birds will be your friends. And this is very true, especially in a pandemic.
I had my first swim today. Yes it was cold but I was encouraged into the water by the thought that I should grab the good weather while it lasts. I’ve had a skirmish or two with the medics this last month. I also spent 24 hours in the hospital a few weeks ago. They were fantastic as always. I got the sense that they were very happy about their efforts in getting the hospital set up so efficiently for the pandemic. How brilliantly it has all worked for them and for us!
Reading novels doesn’t seem to be working for me through this strange time. I find myself reading more online. The Library Borrow Box is a wonderful support to lovers of reading. They also have a big selection of magazines and poetry. Short form seems to be easier for me right now. There is nothing like a newspaper in your hand, but at this stage I will take any number of newspapers online and chew them up!
Everyone is online more than ever. I’m a fan of Twitter but it really has come into its own these last few weeks. First of all, my online friends are there much more than usual. Also as I follow a lot of artists, rewilders, makers and creators, they are always full of the joys.
Twitter is great for getting inside people’s heads, for getting information quickly and for following a story. There have been some great ideas about the re-imagining of Waterford; daily updates on the Covid 19 virus in Waterford, and one great fun activity initiated by Julie Ward, a #WhereInWaterford photography based quiz.
Finally, there’s the daily keeping up with friends and family. Zooms, Skypes and WhatsApps are the order of the day. Life goes on. People are ill, or feeling down, or sometimes have good news to share. It’s a mixed bag. Young people are struggling to find ways to live their full lives and fulfill their plans just as they should. Older people are itching to get going and get out more.
I miss them all!
If I seem to be talking like it’s all over, I am very well aware that it is not. Like the rest of ye, I’m hanging in is all.
Catherine Drea blogs at Foxglovelane.com