My writing group, The Mystic Order of East Alabama Fiction Writers, decided to resume meetings this month, but to do so while following social distancing guidelines by gathering outside on Mystic Katie’s porch and sitting six feet apart.
I was the lone Mystic who didn’t attend the meeting. I have not socialized with friends in person since early March. But my friends have managed to keep me from feeling isolated or anxious.
Friends have left tomatoes and squash on my porch, and sent messages to help myself to ginger lilies and native mint from their yards.
And this week, my friend Joanne dropped by to bring not only some blueberries and peppers from her garden, but also a dress she had made for me from some fabric I had donated to her mask making effort.
She has sewn countless masks for friends, family, and strangers since COVID reared its head. I can’t sew, but contributed a good bit of exquisite fabric I had bought years ago at an estate sale. The former owner of the fabric had been a world traveler and had dresses made in faraway places from material with colorful and interesting patterns that we wouldn’t be able to easily find here. Sadly the dresses were not in my size, but I bought them anyway because the material was so pretty. So Joanne surprised me with a dress inspired by Chinese fashion, covered in a dragon pattern, cut down to my size.
She also shared the assignment that our group was given at the meeting I missed: to keep a journal of writing done during or influenced by COVID. Our Mystic artist, Margee, has already been busy leaving papier mache art houses on walking trails around town for the delight of those who stumble upon them. She leaves her email address with each whimsical house and asks that those who are so inclined send a story that her creation inspired. The idea of art as medicine dates back to antiquity, and modern studies have shown that looking at or making art releases dopamine, the chemical that makes us more able to battle anxiety or depression.
There are a lot of ways to survive these unusual times and make a bad situation better. Of course, the most important is to be considerate of others. I am grateful daily for the health care and other necessary workers who are overworked and at high risk of getting sick, but also for the artists and friends who have been so generous and thoughtful.
Marian Carcache welcomes
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