Wash your yoga mat & other indoor activities

We stopped going outside for anything but groceries, alcohol, or toilet paper 12 days ago. Since beginning our near-total seclusion, I have, in no particular order:

• Read the pandemic-flu book Station Eleven

• Read Jurassic Park

• Spent $20 to watch the new adaptation of Emma

• Taken multiple baths, I lost track

• Washed 2 of 3 yoga mats for (don't judge me too harshly) the first time ever

• Practiced yoga, once

• Done an Instagram dance workout, twice

• Cooked multiple pots of beans

• Baked cheddar chive scones with the chives from our roof garden

• Cleaned the stove, twice

• Vacuumed the kitchen and living room, including under the couch cushions

• Started tomato and pepper seeds, behind schedule but not egregiously so

• Felt unwell, and wondered if it was Covid-19 or just a cold

• Met two deadlines set in pre-pandemic times

Our cat on one of the never-washed until now yoga mats

As much as this newsletter is about the outdoors, I am more naturally a creature of the indoors, and the past week and a half hasn't been terribly different or difficult for me in some ways. As a freelancer, I already work at home almost all the time, and we cook most of our meals and stay in more nights than we go out. I am also fortunate to have not immediately lost work because of the virus, as so many have.

On the other hand, and I'm sure others who have not been more directly impacted by the pandemic feel similarly, I am seized by anxiety, bordering on paralysis. I feel it in the line of my jaw, in my neck, in my throat, in an elevated heart rate and in my chest, which feels tight and pinched, like my body has forgotten how to breathe deeply and regularly—or as if I'm holding my breath until we see just how bad this gets.

Work-wise, I have struggled to focus, managing to meet my deadlines but accomplishing little else. But, since the freelancer networks I am a part of are already full of stories of canceled assignments and slashed budgets, I'm not sure what I should be working on anyways.

I've signed up for a free nature writing course, so perhaps that will help me focus, recenter, perhaps even dream a bit. On the other hand, that may be too much pressure to put on a free online course of any kind. In any case, I hope to write a more traditional Pinch of Dirt very soon.

In the meantime, if you are looking for a way to stay on top of coronavirus news but not drown in it, you might be interested in the weekly column I write for FairWarning, which rounds up the top stories in public health, consumer, and environmental news. The Warning Wire column comes out every Tuesday, but in this extraordinary time we're adding a second column on Fridays (starting tomorrow) dedicated to coronavirus news. You can sign up for those news alerts on the website (top right).

Finally, dear readers, I hope you and yours are all as well as can be, given the circumstances. How are you staying connected to the earth and to your bodies? I’d love to hear from you. I believe there is a comment function on these posts, if you want to share publicly, or you can reply to this email to respond to just me.


Pinch of Dirt is brought to you by Jessica McKenzie. Please forgive any typos, she’s just one human. The complete archives are now behind a paywall, but you can become a paying subscriber for unfettered online access, and to show your support for this newsletter. If that’s not in the cards, or in your budget, don’t worry: free sign-ups will still receive every issue in their inboxes.

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