With the Covid “Mega Storm” In Retreat, Linda Ballou Reflects On the Silver Lining That 2020’s Year of “Hard Rain” Has Revealed
By Linda Ballou, NABBW’s Adventure Travel Associate
Years ago, when I lived on the beach in a pole house on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii, we loved the wild storms that would blow through, threatening to wash us away. The wind whipped the palms wildly and scared us to pieces.
But it was magical after the storm. The water would recede. It would be calm in our lagoon that was protected by a reef, and the world would be fresh and serene.
Then we would run outside to find the treasures the storm had left behind. Prizes like the glass balls used in the Japanese fishing boats to ballast their nets, huge conch shells and all sorts of creatures left behind on the shore.
These days, I’m likening that post-storm exhilaration of my youth to what I’m experiencing now, waking up after a year of Covid-induced hibernation and surveying the scene after the long rainy days of the virus. I see a lot of good that has come from what was certainly the most devastating event in my lifetime.
To begin with, my partner and I enjoyed what I’m labeling “premature jubilation.” As explanation for that term, let me explain that Mexicans call retirees “Jubilants,” and though he and I had never given more than a passing thought to the concept of Retirement, suddenly it was upon us.
We went through the typical adjustments of couples entering into a new phase of having the man of the house home all the time.
I was used to having quiet time for my writing in the morning, not to listening to him yammering on the phone with his pals.
I learned to move around him and he took up vacuuming and emptying the trash in his spare time. Now, I live with Johnny on the Spot Janitorial Service.
He is not a nature boy. He suffers from allergies that in the past have prevented him from loving the great outdoors the way I do.
Out of Covid-induced boredom, he began walking the trails with me. Amazingly, because he was wearing a mask, he was not bothered by his allergies. He started pointing at the birds and asking me about the flowers. Now, he will not miss a day of walking on our favorite trail. This was a real breakthrough.
We used to dine out often. I had a few easy meals I cooked once in a while. Now, we work out our menu for the week, order our groceries online and pick up provisions once a week.
I discovered he could cut up greenery and can make a fine precision salad. I got my recipe book and got into cooking. It’s something I do enjoy, but generally didn’t have time for.
We both have gotten more fit and lost a couple of pounds as a result of eating at home and walking an hour or two every day. We have also become more tolerant of one another’s idiosyncrasies, and that has brought us closer.
Zooming, and chats with a few favorite friends had satisfied my need for company. But, now, that I have had my shots and can spend time with friends, to be with them in person, it means much so more to me.
I have learned how to work at home online, streamlining everything I do. I don’t miss commuting and being on the roads, which, sadly, are clogged again.
After cleaning my sock drawer for the sixth time, I started rummaging through my computer and found all sorts of story ideas for my next book, Lost Angel Unleashed. It was fun reliving past adventures that I had forgotten about. These ideas will keep me busy writing for the next year or so.
And yes, during my year of forced Covid hibernation, I pulled the notes for Embrace of the Wild, my new book about 19th century equestrian explorer and travel writer Isabella Bird, out of my drawer and finished it, putting the resulting story into the hearts and minds of readers.
It was published this past February, and that would not have happened without the year of the virus.
The book is getting great reviews. I feel it was worth the effort and that the time I expended writing about Isabella was well spent.
Serendipitously, it turns out it is a lot easier to market my books online, than it is to make personal appearances at bookstores. Many venues are now set up for author panels on Zoom, and podcasts are the rage.
When marketing prior books I had enjoyed traveling to bookstores and doing live talks, but they are a lot of work. As an extra bonus, marketing books from home gives me more time for writing.
In summary, now that a weak sun is filtering through clearing skies, I can see the silver lining. The pandemic is not something I want to go through again, but I have to say there are a lot of good things have come out of those days of hard rain.
Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer with a host of travel articles on her site www.LostAngelAdventures.com. You will also find information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales from Alaska to New Zealand, and Lost Angel in Paradise where she shares her favorite hikes and day trips on the coast of California.