Quarantine Enlightenment

As I paddled along the brilliant royal blue pond across from my cottage rental, I marveled at the enlightening freshwater lily pads along the shore. Some with white perennial flowers blooming around their sunshine yellow centers. Their hardy shade of green matched the wooded pine trees along the shore which cast a shadow over the pond, changing the water to deep black and housing a broken old dock with rotting wood. It looked like the perfect rustic scene and the embodiment of Summer’s entrance.

Summer has no idea that the world has been quarantined for three months. Summer doesn’t know what Covid 19 is. Summer is here regardless. Could Summer bring to my world the enlightenment those lilly pads seemed to reflect?

A Quarantined World

Before coming to the cottage I had been quarantined with my two youngest sons, Cedrone and Samuel, for 95 days.

My oldest son, Ronnie came along after being evicted from Crete, Greece and has been with us for 25 days. He tried everything to stay in Greece to no avail. He suffered from appendicitis while on Crete, during the first weeks of quarantine. After his two weeks of antibiotics and a follow up appointment, Greece wanted him out. “We do not care where you go. You just can’t stay here” Greek authorities told him.

He arrived in Connecticut on May 10th and was required to Emergency Shelter in Place for fourteen days according to CDC guidelines. We worked hastily to prepare for his stay at an empty family rental property. For two weeks we visited him outside the window on the porch bringing him food, additional supplies, and special treats. For him it was strange having to talk to people through the window screen, but time went by quickly because he was still working remotely for the Sustainable Ocean Alliance.

Quarantined Separately

On May 25th he was able to come home with the three of us. I now had three grown boys in the house: Sam eighteen, Cedrone nineteen, and Ronnie twenty-five years old, along with two cats and a blind rabbit. Our close quarters were more like a family sitcom than a family drama with rotating interventions addressing each of our eccentricities, and playful banter with the animals.

Inevitably, our three bedroom, one bathroom, 1008 square foot farmhouse apartment was getting smaller every day. It was also getting hotter. We set up a lovely used wicker furniture set on the front porch and started installing air conditioners. We made the most of things by hiking the farm and biking down to the Quinebaug river to fish, explore, and enjoy nature. I had bought everyone art kits filled with sketchbooks, artist pens, and paints which we used enthusiastically for a while.

I bought Cedrone his art kit in January for therapeutic use to alleviate post surgical depression. He was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition called Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome in November 2019. On January 17, 2020 he had a “rare and complicated” heart procedure, according to his cardiologist, Doctor Cheyenne Beach of Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. The surgery lasted almost ten hours due to the location of the extra tissue they needed to remove. Fortunately he has had two normal EKGs: one on February 17th before quarantine, and one on May 18th during quarantine.

While Cedrone saw the coronavirus as “dangerous” he also remembers feeling “awful” because we were quarantined a week before everyone else due to the fear we had surrounding his high risk factors. This also meant that his dream of going to Italy for the Summer was slowly dwindling. Cedrone had a goal to spend three months in Udine, Italy helping a congregation with African Refugees. He had been approved by the congregation, had secured a flat, and his flight was booked for June 8th. This trip was already postponed several times because of his heart condition, surgery, and follow up appointments. The kid couldn’t catch a break.

I spent much of the quarantine working on mindfulness. One of the drawbacks to quarantine life was sleep. Nobody knew when to go to sleep or wake up and I was no exception. After Ronnie was home for a week or so I told him I had heard of these people that get up at 5am and sit on their porch sipping tea and listening to the birds singing, all while writing their next best selling book. I wanted to be one of those people.

Ronnie, still feeling bitterly resentful towards Greece, responded sarcastically “I used to be one of those people! I would sit on my balcony overlooking the Gulf of Heraklion sipping tea and practicing yoga.” Eye Roll. The next morning I started my own miracle morning. I was off to a rough start. Everyone in the house was up and suddenly cared about what I was doing, even Samuel who slept until 3pm for the first 45 days of quarantine.

Coincidentally, Sam was diagnosed with a mild heart condition known as Premature Supraventricular Complexes on May 18th. These would present an occasional, mildly irritating, fast heartbeat. He had to wear a heart monitor for thirty days, but it was nothing severe enough to require surgery

Sam was the most restless during quarantine. For the first two months he disguised his restlessness by indulging in endless gaming sessions all night while sleeping all day. When his art kit arrived he scoffed at it at first. After a few days he took to it with great vigor and turned his artwork into graphic designs.

When the weather broke and he got a fishing pole in his hand, it was all over. He started ordering fishing and camping gear on Amazon. He had declared his desire to camp on the river and fish all day and night. My maternal mind was fraught with dangerous possibilities. There could be dangerous people living in the woods. There have been coyote, bear, and mountain lion sightings in town. What if he slipped, hit his head on a rock, and fell into the river. I had to do something fast!

I remembered my parents and I cleaned a cottage on Pachaug Pond in Griswold, seven miles from my house, every summer. We usually get a day or an occasional weekend in between tourists. Maybe the landlord will have an extra week available. She did! The last week of June and the very first day of Summer. I truly believed these boys' psychological health was just as important as their physical health. They needed a break. Not to mention June 18th would be upon us soon, the day the four of us had planned to meet up in Italy for one of the European adventures we have come to love. We needed something to look forward to, a distraction from the dark depth of what could have been, and a light source into the possibilities of what can be.


When we arrived at the cottage Ronnie reminisced of his childhood years here and remembered playing with his cousins. My mother soon joined us and the boys berraded her with questions of our family gatherings on the pond, how long have we been coming here, and how the owners came to own the property. Pleased to pass on tales of local legacy, she quickly answered their questions. She took the opportunity to educate them on the history of the pond as well. Pachaug Pond, she informed us, used to be Pachaug River until they put the dam up in the late 1800s.

The first three days we were at the cottage my stepson, Devion, came as well. Devion was married on March 1st, two weeks before quarantine. We were happy to welcome his new wife and stepson into our uniquely blended family.

When preparing for the cottage I told the three boys that they would each have to choose a day to provide dinner, whether they would cook or buy take out, they were grown now and could help out. The first night Devion was there Ronnie said "what night are you cooking Devion? Mom said we each had to pick a day. What is your day?" Devion enthusiastically chose a day to provide dinner. A new tradition had been formed.

As Devion stood on the dock one day with his five year old son, I realized he was the same age when I married his father. Sentimentality swept in and all of the summer memories I had with him. It was truly a blessing to have him, his wife, and his son come to the cottage. My mother was pleased to have his new wife at her disposal to continue her family tales and the two of us reveled in sharing memories of Devion's childhood.

When I sent Devion his photos from the week he loved them so much he told me there was "Something existentially sobering about bringing my son to the same places I went."

Our enlightening summer escape was in a lovely, calm, and refreshing two bedroom, two bathroom cottage that walked out onto the pond with a dock and picnic tables on the tranquil lawn covered by tall dark pine trees. A place where Ronnie could work remotely by the water, as if he were on Crete, while attempting to save the world’s oceans. A place where Cedrone could find solace and concentration in a game of hackysack. A place where Sam could fish safely. A place where Devion could bring his new family. A place where I could enjoy my miracle mornings.

We may not have been on our European escapade, but in some ways our pond-side retreat was better. We were close to home so I could check on the cats. We did not have the stress of crowded airports and hefty luggage. Our spirits were much more relaxed and low key than if we had been trekking across a big city, making our way through a remote countryside village, or hiking up a treacherous mountainside. Loafing and laziness was our theme for the week.

Life on the Pond

When Quarantine started I was so worried. I was worried about my boys of course, but I was also worried about my family, friends, and community. Were they following CDC guidelines? Were they obeying the governor’s Stay at Home orders? Did they have enough food and supplies? Were they wearing masks? Who could I help and how? How could we give back to the community? I’ve realized this week at the cottage that everyone is doing the best they can under the circumstances they are faced with. Each individual human being has to decide for themselves what is best for them in their lives at each moment in time.

I was enlightened to the fact that I am so truly blessed. Blessed to start new traditions and cherish old ones. Blessed to be surrounded by my parents, children, and new grandchild. For me in this moment in time I get to choose how I stay safe and healthy, how I stay informed without losing my joy, and how I look at my ever changing world, while reflecting on how I got here. Summer was here and I was profoundly enlightened by the new traditions and future summers I had to look forward to.

As my week of enlightenment came to a close I realized that I was feeling rejuvenated. Rejuvenation; the act of making something newly fresh or full of energy, to bring renewed life to something. I’ve decided this will be my word for 2020.5. We are almost halfway through 2020. I wondered how our world could be restored this year? I believe that the uniqueness each and every human being is born with is what makes God's creation so miraculous and the Earth such a special place to live. I believe in the power of positive energy and prayer. I believe we can rejuvenate our souls and become mindful, giving, and loving. I would hit Refresh on the 2020 button of my life through Rejuvenation.

What do you believe? How will you Rejuvenate? How will you hit Refresh on the 2020 button of your life?