April has always been a month that plays hard with my emotions. The weather has intense mood swings and suddenly there are a million things to do, not enough hours in the day to accomplish them all, and dinner is always later than I planned. The busy-ness of it wears me out.
It has never been one of my favorite island months, so I don’t think about it much during the rest of the year. When meeting up with friends we don’t usually ask, “How was your April?” I’ve experienced many years of this capricious season on Islesford, but last year stretched my feelings into ranges I never imagined.
When I think of how everything felt last April, I remember constant anxiety and disbelief. The uncertainty of it all was paralyzing to me. While Bruce dealt with the pandemic by staying as active as he could, crossing project after project off his list, I spent April in my studio feeling numb every time I sat down at my bench.
It’s as if I have spent most of the year preparing for this particular month…
I could not focus and became pretty depressed. I walked away from making jewelry. Fortunately, last April was warm and many of us were able to find some stability in our gardens. I found hope in planting seeds but I sure didn’t feel hopeful about much else.
This April feels different yet again. It’s as if I have spent most of the year preparing for this particular month by surviving and eventually thriving.
We’ve stayed safe and healthy no matter how difficult it was to be separated from loved ones. I learned I can go without leaving the island for months at a time.
Bruce says it reminds him of when they were kids and their parents didn’t have a car or know how to drive. “We went for a long time without going off the island,” he remembers.
I learned the best way to beat the “distant Gramma blues” is to make a video of reading a book or doing something around the house. My favorite FaceTime visits with my four-year-old grandson involve discussions about some of these books. (I’ve read 135 so far.)
I learned to make really good crackers from sourdough discard and Bruce has perfected pizza cooking in his outdoor Ooni oven. I learned that attending a daily early morning Zoom meeting was the key for me to finding some structure and warding off depression. This last year has taught me a level of acceptance I did not previously know I needed. I know it will be useful in the months ahead as we all start coming together again.
Gratitude is not one of the emotions I usually associate with April, but I may never think of this month in the same way again. We have survived a whole year of a pandemic that killed millions of people and Bruce and I are now fully vaccinated. Very soon we will see our sons and their families for the first time in eight months. For science and whatever stars aligned to get us to this point I am truly grateful.
I have some new skills under my belt and I have found my way back to the studio. I’m looking forward to seeing friends this summer who I missed last year. Life is slowly starting to open back up. Next year I hope to smile on April when it comes around again, remembering how it provided hope and reconnection for so many this year.
Barbara Fernald lives on Islesford (Little Cranberry Island).