July has given us some semblance of normality. At first I was hesitant to socialize with others, but I think it’s important to keep living life and not let fear overwhelm us. My family continues to follow government guidelines and practice good sense so I trust that is enough to keep us safe. Over recent weeks we’ve attended barbecues, playdates with other children and their moms, camped with friends, had picnics at the beach, and even managed a trip to the city.
Last week we had a milestone birthday to celebrate. Another son has reached adulthood! It was bittersweet lighting 18 candles on his cake. I’m happy for him, but I will always miss the little boy he once was. This son of mine was so affectionate, funny, and entertaining as a young child. He continues to be a creative, free spirit. T is very independent and already wants to spread his wings. In my experience, letting go is one of the hardest aspects of parenting.
We enjoyed going for a family walk in the woods on his birthday. Afterwards we ate dinner at a nearby restaurant which reopened a couple of weeks ago. Seeing staff wear masks was the only thing that seemed different than before the pandemic. I had to give my name and phone number for contact tracing, which is required for all restaurants in Ireland. By now we’re all accustomed to constantly sanitizing our hands. Otherwise the experience seemed completely normal and very enjoyable. I had forgotten how much I missed eating out! Takeaways just aren’t the same. Later we had a bonfire, cake, and presents.
This weekend he’s celebrating with his friends at an outdoor party they’ve organised. I’m helping with food and other family members will help on the night. Honestly I’m a bit nervous about people showing up who aren’t invited. Current guidelines for mass gatherings state we’re allowed up to 200 people outdoors or 50 indoors. He’s only invited around 40 friends but has a large social network, partly because he’s well known in his peer group for his music.
I’m afraid teenagers will hear about the party and arrive from all over. He has a lovely group of friends, but they’re not the ones I’m worried about. What if people arrive from the city or further away? There have been Covid-19 cases reported in our area recently so it really does put me on edge, especially after the Killarney situation made national news. My son has reassured me that only local people are coming and some will be wearing face coverings. We’ll remind them to observe social distancing and do our best to keep everyone safe. I’m probably stressing unnecessarily, but it’s difficult not to when some elements are out of our control.
Going for a little retail therapy in the city last weekend also felt like a big step. My daughter and I enjoyed having a much needed girls day out! She’s been such a big help during lockdown with her little brother. She has taken on a lot of responsibility caring for him whenever I need to go out for groceries or other errands. It was nice to see her smiling and carefree. I also enjoyed having a break from my high energy 3 year old! The two of us bought books, clothes, and browsed through a craft shop. We enjoyed a stress-free meal at one of our favorite restaurants, and she convinced me to go for crepes before we headed home.
Other recent adventures included a trip to the Heron Gallery Cafe and Gardens. I adore Annabel Langrish’s art and have bought prints locally, but this was my first trip to her piece of paradise on the Sheep’s Head peninsula. I instantly fell in love with the garden! It’s simply magical. (Photos really can’t do it justice). I was happy to discover they sell seeds collected from the variety of flowers. I bought 2 packs of the cottage garden selection to plant next spring.
We arrived late in the day when most of the food was gone. Luckily we got the last 2 pieces of cake and they were delicious! Blessing loved meeting the 3 pet pigs, visible from the outdoor seating area, although he was initially concerned that they wanted to eat him for dinner. Ironic, considering how much he enjoys eating sausages… Obviously he hasn’t made the connection yet. Once he does he may join 3 of his siblings in becoming a vegetarian.
While browsing through the shop before paying, I was taken by the Raku ceramic art. Originally a Japanese process for firing pottery, it has a unique crackle effect on each piece. I just couldn’t resist! Kitty has happily found a new home. Isn’t she gorgeous?
I have 3 new pieces of art to hang, including a painting and a drawing by Veronica Evans. Last December I wrote about my irrational fear of marking the walls and hanging pictures in the wrong place. I realize that’s ridiculous. I hoped this would be the year I’d take everything out of bubble wrap that survived the fire and place them on the walls where they belong. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m almost ready. Maybe I just need to collect a few more pieces of art first…
Who wants to be indoors decorating or cleaning when the weather is good? Not me! Thankfully the rain has stopped and we’ve been out kayaking, swimming, and picnicking whenever we can. I haven’t had as much time for gardening, reading or writing as I’d like, but we’re making the most of our freedom while we still have it. There’s talk of another lockdown coming if numbers of Covid-19 cases continue to rise. As much as I enjoyed our time at home, summer just wouldn’t be the same without these other experiences.
What does your “New Normal” look like? Are you continuing to stay home as much as possible or venturing out?