OPINION: Embracing back-to-home comforts in a stressful time

Plato had it right. Necessity is the mother of invention.

The more we’re faced with adversity the more creative we get.

So the longer we’re forced to isolate at home, the more innovative we become. Rather than go stir crazy, we’re clearing store shelves of flour and yeast. We’re buying up vegetable seed and ordering topsoil. And it’s nearly impossible to purchase an old-fashioned jigsaw puzzle online.

It all seems a little surreal. In just a few weeks the lifestyle of many has changed drastically. As we follow orders and stay home during the pandemic we’re slowing down and turning to simpler pleasures.

After the nonsensical run on toilet paper in Sarnia the next thing to disappear was baking products, especially the ingredients for bread.

Many people I know are in the kitchen baking bread, mostly sourdough for some reason, but also 12-grain and whole wheat. Yeast and flour are now precious commodities. People are asking relatives to email old family recipes to make from scratch. They’re motivated, perhaps for the first time.

This is a unique opportunity to embrace our roots, to enjoy family and food, and all that means to us.

Sarnia nurseries report an unusual run on seed, particularly lettuce, carrots and beans. Questions about establishing new gardens are pouring in to greenhouse operators from customers who have never planted a seed in their life.

“I suspect 25% of the people buying seeds have never considered growing their own before,” says Brian Sipkens of Sipkens Nurseries. “Normally, they buy transplants but now they have time and can enjoy growing something.

“Living in a garden improves your health and wellbeing,” he pointed out.

That’s something we all need as we navigate this global tragedy. Gardening is also a wonderful pastime for kids.

And what’s up with puzzles? Such a basic and relaxing hobby has never been more popular. Every other person I speak with has a puzzle in progress on the dining room table.

All this tells me the pandemic has us looking for comforts that bring us closer to one another, even as we’re apart. Perhaps, as never before, we want to feel the dough between our fingers, the earth beneath our feet, and the satisfaction of a finished project.

This emergency could make better people of us yet.

Isolating is teaching me new things every day I had never bothered with before.

Did you know if you run out of baking powder you can make your own with cream of tartar and baking soda? Were you aware alfalfa seeds will spout in a mason jar?

Did you know there are at least 500 ways to prepare potatoes, or that your self-inflicted pandemic hair cut will look just fine in a few weeks? Just kidding about that last one. Your hair probably won’t ever be the same again.

But seriously, all this at-home time has shown me the therapeutic value of working on a jigsaw with family and sharing long-forgotten recipes with friends.

It’s all about getting back to basics and trying to view isolating as an opportunity rather than a hardship.

In the end, it’s all about attitude.