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  • Mike and Helen

Home Ripening

“Go on line at about 4am and you should get a delivery slot without any problem”. That was the helpful(?!) advice given by our son-in-law, James, early in lockdown when we could not get a home delivery for love nor money.

We can get deliveries now. But as we still try to avoid supermarket visits, life is very different from when we could do a big shop once a week and then slip into town for anything we’d forgotten (or fancied!) in between times. Ordering food for a fortnightly delivery has meant that we need to find a different rhythm of buying – and eating.

Rhythm is particularly important for buying fruit. Knowing how ripe fruit is going to be when you buy it and how long it will last is quite different when you see it on screen from when you can see it in the flesh and maybe even touch it in the supermarket. Timing is crucial in the consumption of avocados and nectarines and peaches! Ordering online makes ‘home-ripening’ less of a helpful concept.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many home rhythms other than shopping have changed during lockdown. The vital rhythms of personal growth and maturing, so important in all homes and households, have been interrupted and distorted for people who normally rub along together more or less successfully. Suddenly, some of us have been forced to live cheek by jowl 24/7 with those whom we love or have chosen to be with at some time. Nurture is difficult when you are all living up close and personal in a hothouse. For others, used to living alone but with the regular social support of family and friends, the hours have been very long. Boredom and introspection weigh on the spirits. ‘The days seem so long,’ our widowed neighbour told us.

A friend of ours came for a cuppa and a cake yesterday. She told us that her daughter-in-law - a family lawyer – is inundated with divorce applications as relationships collapse under the pressures of lockdown. Who can blame people struggling with the multiple stresses of working from home: uncertainty about employment and finances in the present and the future, anxiety about the health of loved ones or perhaps one’s own health. Lockdown has brought us individually and as families face to face with our weaknesses and fragilities.

All of which brings us back to the idea of nurture. In demanding times good food for the mind and spirit is as important as nutritious food for the body.

Human ripening, maturing, is a slow process. Sometimes, we have found, it has been easy to forget the need for the nurture of the spirit during lockdown. It’s quite easy at such times to feed one’s mind on apocalyptic news, blame-game politics and the endless stream of shallowness that is the social media. Breathtakingly stupid and offensive conspiracy theories abound targeting people of other races, women, Jews, those with a disability – anyone is fair game on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and all the other platforms. It can happen in personal conversation too.

To withstand such a torrent of diseased sentiment we need to keep nurturing ourselves. Ripening is a slow business. Our views take time to form and will require change and will demand an effort. This sort of nurture and self-care requires the same sort of commitment that was required to go online at 4am to find a delivery!

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