During Australia’s strict lockdown last year due to the pandemic, there were many conversations on social media about the art of baking soda bread and how to plant a fruitful vegetable garden. I did not participate in either of those activities, preferring to follow the lead of our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, after he declared jigsaw puzzles an “essential item” and gifted them to his children.
My favourite jigsaws feature scenes from much-loved movies and are now framed and hanging on the walls of my lounge room, much the same way I used to hang posters of ‘Farnsie’ and The Bay City Rollers 50 years ago. Most of the puzzles will soon be donated to the local charity shop, but they kept me occupied when the days were long. They can be infuriatingly frustrating though, especially when you are forced to search the vacuum cleaner bag for missing pieces!
I also mastered the art of stuffing and baking cauliflower, as well as tidying the contents of my kitchen drawers, so I consider my lockdown quite the success. Some of my neighbours were more adventurous with their lockdown projects. One chap constructed a chicken coop in his backyard and another landscaped his garden, which now features a glorious water feature and a fishpond full of koi. It looks amazing!
Catching up with friends and acquaintances over the holiday season, I was gobsmacked by some of the projects that had successfully been undertaken during our enforced period of isolation last year. One lass wrote and published a children’s book. Another created an online learning platform for those with an interest in art. An octogenarian friend started blogging for the first time and is currently 40,000 words into her memoir. While another friend left me speechless when she told me she compiled a book of her own poetry, then had it bound and covered after following a YouTube tutorial.
Last autumn, ABC radio in Brisbane put out a call to Queenslanders to contribute a small textile square, which would be made into a ‘quarantine quilt’. The only criteria was that the squares needed to measure a particular size, should feature joyful and colourful motifs, and needed to represent people’s isolation experiences during the pandemic, with a focus on what made them happy. The resulting quilt is now hanging in the Queensland State Library. Now that’s what I call a lockdown project!
I’ll be better prepared if we are ever forced into another period of isolation. My kitchen drawers are in an absolute state again and I’m contemplating writing a recipe book with the title ‘101 Ways With Cauliflower’.