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  • Writer's pictureEvelyn Roberts

Then Along Came Covid

I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity. ― Albert Einstein

Kona, Hawaii, 2020

Sitting with my friend watching endless American football. Can’t help thinking that if even a fraction of the audience enthusiasm displayed was funnelled towards human rights, and changing all our political problems, what a different world we’d have.

In a gorgeous affluent area of the big island Hawaii, with countless exclusive hotels and resorts, and there is zero recycling. Apparently they had it before, but it was too expensive, so the programme was discontinued. How can this be, on a tourist island?

Yes, we are having way too much fun... and finding magical places like Sea Glass Beach, where a nearby dump produces glorious sand from disposed glass bottles, etc. But still no recycling.

Heading back to Bali, via Sydney. The gods of overweight came through yet again. Thank you kindly, JetStar.

The next sunrise I wake up to will be a Bali one.



Such a wonderful peaceful place for a layover. No blaring flight announcements, they trust that people will find where they need to be and get there on time.

One of the spoils of my recent trip to Tasmania was three hand knitted tea cosies, something I never see without being reminded of my beloved Scottish granny. Now I can have tea with her treasured memory every morning. How the seemingly simplest of things can be so precious and evocative.

Back in the garden of Eden, ready to plant, with the best team on the whole island... or anywhere else on the planet . As always pinching myself at my unbelievable fortune to spend so much time in such a place.

Of course the coronavirus issue is not to be underplayed, but you can definitely see 2 camps of people emerging. Those who simply won't travel and those who take this as the ideal time to do so; less people, more comfortable flights, supporting the locals, etc.

I'm headed for Central Asia in May, but now wondering where else in the meantime.

One footed rooster.

Our neighbour’s chickens ever wander freely through our Bali property. They constantly amuse, and sometimes irritate, although we are slowly learning how to effectively arm/fence our veggie patches against them. It is our creative responsibility to do so. This is their domain, and always will be.

Since arriving back recently, I have noted one particularly robust rooster impressively hopping around on just one foot. The other foot is gone at the “ankle”. Upon enquiring about what happened to him I have been informed that he is very lucky to be alive, he is a fighter cock who lost his little limb in battle (the ones where humans strap razor blades to their feet and watch them cut each other up for entertainment). He was apparently such an impressive feathered warrior that he was allowed to live. Most of them immediately end up in a pot, too cut up to survive. This is not a rant against the Balinese, because in truth, despite practices like this, most animals here live out their lives in some degree of a natural environment. I find the bizarre extremes of western sentimentality and pampering towards creatures personally adored, while at the same time turning a blind eye to the holocaust of factory farming that fill dinner plates, far more disturbing.

This retired proud wounded warrior, who I can encounter around any corner at any moment, has become my constant reminder of the entitled cruelty of my own species. I have dubbed him “General” and have taken to saluting him and making a silent bowed apology whenever we meet, (purely for me not him, being from a far less complicated species he just enthusiastically gets on with his lot in life).

And with us humans as custodians he still ranks as one of the “lucky” ones.

Jungle bathtub therapy, I challenge anyone to tell me of a better way to start the day.

How interesting to be in Asia when there is all this fuss about shortages of toilet paper. A completely moot point here, as there are always spray hoses provided, by far a more hygienic, eco conscious way to go... by mammoth leaps. It's always far creepier going back to the TP way of the west than coming to the far cleaner ways of the east.

If anyone needs tips on how to self isolate, then I am your expert. My Life 360 app just informed me that I have not even left the property for over a month. And just as happy as a jungle creature, about it, am I.

As they ripen we dry them, the jungle is now in jars. Mango, papaya, bananas, starfruit, apples, tomatoes, jambu... and anything else we can lay our hands on... nothing is spared, (although we have determined, you cannot dry passionfruit).

Testy times, but do any of us really want or believe that everyone else should 100% agree with us all the time? I know it isn't the actual meaning (I did check), but "social media" to me is about sharing our thoughts and opinions, and hopefully finding the middle ground whenever possible.

I do more than my fair share of blocking people, but I do it for how they say things and undercurrents, rather than what they actually have to say. Personal attacks, and this includes the insidious smarmy, sugary variety, being the absolute no no's. And I do consider my own social media platforms to be like my home, here I can say whatever I like. If you are my friend you are welcome to visit and tell me what you think, but please don't pee on the carpet... and I promise to try hard not to pee on yours.

I am a confessed hair-trigger eye-roller at what some people post on their own pages, while acknowledging it is really none of my business, so I unroll them as quickly as possible when I remember this.

People are stating what they feel and believe, and it is a privilege and the positive aspect of this medium to have this lens, regardless of what it stirs up. Maybe its greatest value is when it does stir things up?

If it is just too much, we all have the absolute right to un-invite and close that door. No explanations needed. And if you are my friend in real time but not on here, that is okay. Our connection and caring for one another will not be negated by thinking differently.

So, so grateful for the garden and its constant need for attention.

Acutely aware that most are not so fortunate at this bizarre time. This simplest of things, this garden, this jungle; the most life-affirming place imaginable. Our vast but tiny, mysterious, generous, wisdom forest.

We are in isolation, but taking full advantage of no guests by doing a major overhaul of every little thing in need of attention (in the tropics things fall apart at a head spinning rate). Servis as they say here. Feels good, and everyone still employed. Thank you, Team.

p.s. and the lemon tree is fruiting... we had no idea if it actually would.

Living literally in a food forest. What to do creatively with too many ripe bananas and an abundance of fresh coconut? Nothing too delicious, as I will be all alone with it much of the time... minus a lot of willpower. Muffins are too dangerous, I already finished the last batch.

We do have a deep freeze.

Our days:

Preparing to plant.

Watching things thrive.

Asked for pipes to be painted a colour that was natural and inconspicuous.

Carpet cleaning.

Watching and slightly fretting over my our tiniest chick, named Binky the Bantam, definitely the runt and only half the size of all the others... but super spirited. So rooting for her/him to survive.

I am of the age when catching five tiny 1 ounce chicks nightly qualifies as an extremely strenuous cardiovascular workout. They run very fast and escape under everything.

Odd phenomena here in Bali; besides being a major vacation destination for the Chinese, (direct flights from Wuhan before shut-down) and many cruise ship employees being based here, no significant spike in deaths seen to date. Regardless, everyone is being super cautions and vigilant and taking all prescribed precautions. Many theories abound.

Isolation central, and a delivery of fruit trees. Persimmon, guava, figs, cherimoya, loquat, blood orange, pomegranate, soursop, java plum, jujube apple... and strawberries, stevia, sage and horseradish... and even gooseberries. Many a total experiment, but all have already been grown successfully on the island. Hey, I transplanted from northern climes to the tropics, so hopefully these can too.

Words like "cull" and "depopulation" don't mask a thing when man decides some animal is a pest, or inconvenient. These are sentient, intelligent creatures, who only want to live their lives, love and nurture their young, and enjoy a tiny little piece of this planet. Please at least call it what it is.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. - Gandhi


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