It started out great. I had big plans based on the sum of 2019. Long days on old water, road trips to fish with friends on theirs. New stories to get out and make, others to watch and listen to. I had a shelf of empty notebooks and SD cards to fill.
Then the storm hit. For all of us. People got sick, people died, businesses closed, jobs were lost and our world changed hour by hour. Metaphorical drawbridges were raised in the name of practicality and trepidation. Nearly a year later it continues. Even as Covid-19 vaccines begin to make their way to the masses, the idea that we will ever "return to normal" seems inconceivable. Too much has changed.
I've been fortunate. I've worked everyday through the pandemic and remained healthy. It's been a struggle and concessions have been made, but the company I work for is still operating. Next week could be different. Everyday begins and ends with the question of what will tomorrow bring.
I've been lucky. I don't take it for granted. As it was for so many, the economic impact of the pandemic knocked on the door of our home. The company that Jill worked for furloughed most of its employees shortly after the initial lockdown and then soon after closed its doors and was gone. Like most we sat in the kitchen many nights wondering if this might be all that there is. The new normal. The line between hanging on and letting go that was once far out of sight suddenly could be seen outside the window.
But the human spirit is extraordinarily resilient. Outside that same kitchen window is our shed. The base for Jill Mason Art. Up until now, Jill's business was a part-time labor of love built on the dream of some day making it a full time endeavor. With a dismal forecast for returning to her previous career, she wasted no time in getting out there and changing the dream into a reality. Rather than waiting for something to happen, she's worked ten to twelve hour days everyday making it happen.
Parallel to Jill's story, her friend and former co-worker, Bonnie Frost, chose not to wait for the next career opportunity and started her own business, Frost and Found. In partnership with her landscaper husband, Chad, Bonnie took her passion for design and applied it to plantings, flowers and antiques to offer custom container plantings, sustainable arrangements and unique gifts for the home, patio and office.
The two of them recently collaborated to host an event, "The Jingle Barn," showcasing their work as well as South Shore Candles for holiday shoppers.
At the end of the first day, as I poured a glass of wine for everyone, I said to the two of them, "I'm proud of you. It takes b*lls to do what you have done." Pardon my word usage, I write in my own voice and if you know me, well, that's how I speak. My point is, in a chaotic world and a down economy, starting a business is a questionable decision at best. And trust me, a lot of people have questioned their judgement. But they did it. And they're rocking it. Not to make a fortune, but to make a life.
As I've watched Jill and Bonnie leave their previous careers behind and build something new out of drive and determination, I think of those empty notebooks on my shelf. Selfishly I've thought all this time I was missing out on the stories I thought I'd fill them with because of the limitations thrown at us by Covid-19. As I sat down to write this I took a look around at "my people" I thought I'd find stories with and realize that they've been right at it working on and re-writing their own stories through the uncertainty of these times.
He's right. And following his own words, in the midst of big life changes, Matt's gone back to his roots and rediscovered his voice and his focus. He's writing again. The good stuff. And continuing to inspire a lot of us.
My good friend, Rich Strolis, now semi-retired, is going at it full time on the vise at Catching Shadows cranking out flies while he waits for things to get to a point where he can guide full time. His plans got slapped around by the pandemic but he's adjusted and grinds it every day.
Nick Santolucito spent almost a year planning his new venture, M&D Outfitters, only to have Covid-19 hit just before he launched the new shop. Like Rich, he adjusted and made it work. Every day.
My niece's husband, Max Ritchie, worked through the pandemic on his side project, Carlisle Island Oysters, and brought his first harvest to market just before Christmas.
The human spirit can be extraordinarily resilient.
I look at these people and what I've written and I think of my favorite poem, "Self-Pity,' by D.H. Lawrence:
I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.
With the year about to end, I'm thankful for all of you who have read the periodic posts here and all who continue to support whatever this place is. I appreciate it. And I wish us all the best in 2021.
And to the wild things,
You make my heart sing.
South River, MA
26 December 2020