Greetings from the Brandywine Valley of Southeastern Pennsylvania in the U.S. where I live with my husband in a suburban/semi-rural setting. The Brandywine Valley is an hour from Philadelphia and about 15 minutes from Wilmington, Delaware. Our county has had stay home orders and closures of nonessential businesses since about mid March and it looks like it will stay like that through at least the end of April. Fortunately, my husband has been able to continue his job working from home, and as a travel writer, I always work at home when I am not traveling. I am thankful to all those that don’t have this luxury and continue to work to keep our infrastructure going so that the rest of us can live our normal lives even in isolation.
Life Without Travel is a series of first-person accounts from the Getting On Travel team. Each post offers a personal glimpse into the lives of our travel writers and bloggers apropos of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
I took early retirement from my corporate technical job about five years ago and have been traveling continuously ever since. I was looking at my calendar and I realized that for the past five years, I have travelled somewhere almost every month, and I have loved every minute of it. That is why I started a travel blog.
I was looking forward to a very busy three months of travel this spring as well. March was supposed to be in sunny Sicily and then northern Greece. April was a long-awaited, top-of-the-bucket-list trip with my husband to the Galapagos. May was a travel journalist’s conference in Puerto Rico. Of course, all these trips have been cancelled and some tentatively rescheduled.
Now that my wings have been clipped, I am finding that for the time being, I am content staying in my house. When I am not on the road, I am normally a homebody anyway. Surprisingly, not having any trips to plan and to look forward to is also not bothering me at the moment. I think that because I know that I cannot go anywhere and neither can anyone else, I am allowing myself to just take each day as it comes and am enjoying not having any deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise. Oddly, this staycation is turning into a vacation from my travel vacations.
But spring is in the air in Brandywine
It also certainly helps that we are having a beautiful spring here in the Mid-Atlantic, which is my favorite season. I was actually a little disappointed that with all my planned travels I would be missing it. Over the 20 plus years that we have been living in this house, we have planted many spring-flowering trees, shrubs and flowers. Each fall I plant a few more bags of bulbs. I think of them as little packages of hope and promises that will bring color and sunshine after a dreary winter. As a result, by this time of year my yard in the Brandywine Valley is awash in shades of yellow, white, pink, lavender and the emerald green of new spring grass.
I am fortunate to have some of the best public gardens in the United States nearby, and I do miss not being able to visit them right now. I have memberships to a few, and I particularly enjoy taking walks in them this time of year and seeing the spring blooms. Like all nonessential businesses in our county, they are also closed. However, I have twenty-plus years of spring flower photos that I have been sharing on my blog, Quiltripping.com, and on my Instagram (also Quiltripping) that I hope bring a little color and hope to my readers and followers. I also usually have a flower arrangement in the house, and now, little things like that which bring me joy are all that much more important.
Finding time to catch up
I am also finding joy in the fact that I can start some of those long-term projects on the honey-do-list. I feel like I will have the time to work through them at a leisurely pace and finally get them done without any time pressures. I always found that hard to do when I knew I would have to leave again in a few weeks.
Like many our age, we have accumulated a lot of stuff in our house. Kids left for college, came back and brought stuff with them and then left again without taking all of it. Parents have passed away and more stuff came to the house. Now I finally have the time to deal with all this detritus. I’ve been working on cleaning out the attic, the basement and going through the closets. There will be a garage half full of stuff to donate ,once someone is available again to come and pick it up. When so much else is out of my control at the moment, it feels good to get control over some aspects of my life.
All of this found time is also allowing me to try catch up with my blog not only with all the photos I’ve taken in the last five years of traveling but also with my writing. I doubt that I will have every trip documented before I start traveling again, but I hope to make a good dent on the list. This is actually the hardest part for me, because in the process of writing about a trip, I relive it in technicolor detail and it is then that I realize that I do not know if I will be able to travel again any time soon.
Uncertainties about the future
For now, I am apprehensive about traveling while this coronavirus is still active. I had a really bad case of pneumonia in my early 30’s, and ever since then I tend to get bronchitis very easily, so I know what it feels like not to be able to catch your breath. I usually cannot catch a cold or the flu without needing to take medications for the inevitable bronchitis. That is one thing that I have not seen mentioned in the media or by doctors. Younger patients may recover from the pneumonia resulting from the coronavirus, but their lungs may never be the same for the rest of their lives, as was the case for me. As a result, I am quite concerned about catching this virus, because I don’t think my lungs will deal well with it. I am really looking forward to the vaccine. Can I go a year without traveling? I don’t know – but I may have to.
I am finding that not being able to plan for the future is actually helping me stay more grounded in the present. For the time being, anything other than staying home is out of my control, so there is no point in worrying about it. Instead I am choosing to focus on those things that currently make me happy.
I think it is important to have a creative outlet and for me that is quilting, gardening and writing which help to keep me content. We stay connected with our kids and grandson using Duo and texting. We go for walks around our neighborhood and work outside in our garden. And I have found that I get less anxious if I don’t troll the news media or the social media often. I look at my phone in the morning and then in the evening and try to resist the temptation to look at updates in between.
I know I will travel again at some point, but since I do not know when that will be, I am trying to appreciate today instead.
Cheers and stay safe.
Based in the Brandywine Valley, Rose Palmer is an award-winning travel writer and photographer who shares her stories on her website Quiltripping.com – Life is a Patchwork of Experiences. After a diverse 25 year career as a PhD chemist, Rose took early retirement and now uses her time to explore the world and her creativity. Travel, photography and quilting have been her lasting passions and provide the framework for continuing learning experiences. She is always on the lookout for unique experiences and likes to focus her traveling lens on history, art, architecture, nature and soft adventures.