A Corona Harvest: Feeling Thankful

13 December, 2020 4 comments Leave a comment

Carrots grown by Karen Richardson

What a year this has been. When you throw a worldwide pandemic into the mix, life gets turned upside down, and everyone has to construct a 'new normal'.

Some folks have had a very sad experience with COVID-19. We hear of people who have lost their loved ones, jobs, homes, savings, or businesses, and feel so badly for them.

Tomatoes grown by Karen Richardson

As I write this, I find myself feeling grateful for our own situation. Many positive things have happened in our life because of the global pandemic and related time of isolation, perhaps because of the way we dealt with it. My husband and I realize we have much for which to be thankful.

Onions and garlic grown by Karen Richardson

Here in Ontario, starting last March, life got really simple, really fast. The province went into a state of emergency, schools and non-essential businesses were closed, and everyone was asked to stay home to control the spread of COVID-19.

Garlic scapes grown by Karen Richardson

With me running a home-based art business, and my husband being retired, staying at home is normal life for us, and we have endless to-do lists to keep us busy and content at the homestead.

Raspberries grown by Karen Richardson

I am an introvert, so being asked to remain at home and clear my calendar of meetings and appointments was no hardship at all. In fact, I came to love the simplicity of deciding each morning how to structure my day, depending on the weather forecast. Sunny - go for a walk or work in the yard. Rainy - make stuff in the kitchen or studio.

Crabapples grown by Karen Richardson

Since our spring trip to Australia was cancelled and Ontario campgrounds were closed, it looked like we would be spending the spring and summer at home. Rather than view this as a disappointment, we decided to take advantage of this opportunity to work on some major projects at home.

One of those was to grow a food garden in our back yard and figure out how to harvest and preserve the bounty. You can read about my spring and summer gardening journey in these previous posts:

My Corona Garden (May 2020)

My Corona Silver Lining (July 2020)

Rhubarb grown by Karen Richardson

This gardening project was the perfect way to change a negative into a positive. I got such a kick out of watching seeds and seedlings grow into delicious, nutritious things we could eat. It was miraculous, even in a garden as small as mine.

Tomatoes grown by Karen Richardson

I heard of many other folk who tried growing vegetables for the first time in 2020. The photos in this post are all vegetables and fruits I produced this year. I guess I can add 'farmer' to my resume ;-).

Lettuces grown by Karen Richardson

My husband built me two fantastic raised garden planters, (one of which is pictured below in September), and I grew most of my produce in them.

Karen Richardson's garden

With dine-in restaurants closed, I got used to cooking and baking delicious meals seven days a week, incorporating my garden produce whenever possible.

Tomato salsa made by Karen Richardson

I did some canning to preserve food, such as the tomato salsa shown above, and the crab apple jelly shown below.

Crabapple jelly made by Karen Richardson

I oven roasted most of my cherry tomatoes and then froze them. I look forward to adding these sweet gems to chili and pasta sauce this winter.

Roasted cherry tomatoes by Karen Richardson

I pureed some of the roasted tomatoes in a blender and will add this mixture (shown below) to soups or lasagna - perfect on a cold winter day.

Tomato puree by Karen Richardson

Another big positive to spending much of the year at the homestead was that we got to complete a major renovation on our house. When we moved here six years ago, the plan was to change the siding on the house from white to blue, to match the two new outbuildings we had built. This is what our house looked like in 2014 when we moved in:

Karen Richardson's home 2014

Since then, we have renovated the entire interior, re-shingled the roof, and completed extensive landscaping.

This summer, we hired a couple of local contractors to remove the old white siding, add a layer of rigid foam insulation all around, and then add blue siding with stone wainscoting. Shown below is a photo of the insulation going on in August.

Karen Richardson home 2020

Shown below is what our house looked like in September when all the work was done. We immediately noticed how much quieter our home was inside, and I expect this winter we will save on heating costs while being warm and cosy, with this project finally accomplished.

Karen Richardson home 2020

Another beneficial effect of the pandemic, and one I never would have predicted, happened with my art business. When all the galleries representing my artwork across Ontario had to close for three months this spring, I expected a long, slow period of recovery once they were allowed to reopen.

Such was not the case. When galleries reopened in June, sales of my original paintings were very strong, and have continued since then. I find it incredible that my total painting sales for this year of the pandemic have exceeded last year's levels (and 2019 was an excellent year).

Having to cancel the fall watercolour workshops I normally would have taught allowed me more time to paint over the last few months, and I continue to paint as quickly as I can to keep ahead of demand. 

Karen Richardson in her art studio

As my husband and I approach the end of this unprecedented year, we are filled with gratitude for the life we live and the good fortune that has been bestowed on us. We are people who see the pot as half full rather than half empty, and this outlook allowed us to be flexible and make the most of a challenging situation.

I sincerely hope next year is a healthy and happy one for everyone.

What was your impression of 2020? Has the period of isolation revealed any positive aspects you would like to retain in your future life? If you have comments to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more life-of-the-artist articles, travel tales, painting stories, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming exhibitions.

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  1. Diane Schurman December 15, 2020

    Your house looks great, Karen! Loved seeing the veggies you grew and some of the things you did with them. Like you, my husband and I are most thankful for our rich lives and have found the quiet and solitude of the pandemic to be an enjoyable time. He has done ton of things around the house and I am loving the opportunity to concentrate on painting, learning and improving. So glad to hear that you’re having a couple of excellent years in painting sales…you deserve them!

  2. Lynda Pindar December 15, 2020

    Karen…your writing as well as your artwork are beautiful and eloquent. You accomplished so much this year. Let’s hope this vaccine is distributed quickly and we can all get back to our regular lives. Merry Christmas Karen & John. Be safe. Cheers.

  3. Helen Smith December 15, 2020

    Loved reading this about your 2020 home time!
    Merry Christmas to you both.
    Love from us … Ian, Helen & Katie 💖🎄💖

  4. Diane Richardson December 15, 2020

    Hi Karen . Love the new look of your house! I have a friend Janice( lost her husband four years ago) skidooed with usliving with me till she finds a house to buy. Hers sold very quick in Greenbank. I told her to put her stuff in storage and live here. A nice way to spend Covid.your garden sure produced lovely bounty. Have a safe and Merry Christmas and maybe next year later we may get one once a month dinner in. It would be nice to see everyone again.