Making Marmalade in Tilting Times: A Letter from Daphne Davies

A Letter from Daphne Davies:
You're going to ask me how I am, how am I doing with this corona virus thing? So, here it is: I've been feeling a bit tilty, literally. I find myself moving through the house feeling as if I'm tilting, not really going in the direction I mean to, and going where I do out of kilter. This isn't metaphoric, it's real. Is it vertigo? Is it dehydration? Or is it an unknown symptom? And if so, of what?
"The time is out of joint," Hamlet lamented, frustrated by his own inaction, believing it was up to him to put things right in his world. For me, the world is out of joint. Things aren't as we know them, as we feel they should be. I feel empty-handed, flat footed, no plan of action, no solution, no committee to act, no call for a final vote.
The other night I couldn't find the everyday tablecloth (the blue one with the tiny flowers), so I dug out the nicer one (gold-colored cotton, jacquard-weave, fruits showing up when I look at it just right). And then I thought of candles, so I put little candle pots on the table. The dancing light, the nicer cloth, a small glass of white wine; somehow, life seemed better.
And yesterday, seeing a lovely stack of oranges we had out in the cooler room, I remembered how much I love marmalade. So I sliced oranges, a grapefruit and a lemon and put them to soak overnight. Today, between other busyness, I am cooking the marmalade. It takes hours and I have to be patient (which I rarely am). Slowly, the bubbles rise, I stir, the color deepens to a translucent hue like nothing else, except seeing the sun through a rare orange agate.
When I was younger, my best friend Diane L. and I made marmalade together at Christmas. We were both sadly leaving our marriages and had nothing to give our families as gifts; marmalade was the solution. Our daughters played in the other room as we cooked, cooled and poured the hot liquid into french canning jars and added the labels: "Winter Sun." When I last visited Diane, at the end of a her too-short life, she brought up that memory of us, together, making Winter Sun. Her father had especially loved it, she said.
So here I am, like you, probably mostly house-bound, maybe donning your gloves and your resolve to go to the grocery store, hoping you're not taking your life in your hands in order to get a cabbage and some apples. Maybe you're doing some of these little things as I am, the things that uphold the standard, or provide reminders of "normal life" to hold onto. And hopefully you're calling and thinking of those you love, and those who love you. I've checked on and been checked on by aunts, siblings and some of you, my friends.
Although it technically isn't winter, it's felt like it, but today I stood in the yard in the sun and ate my lunch al fresco. I could hear an eagle hidden in some nearby branches. So, I'll keep tilting through my days, zigzagging from place to place. As I try to get a grip on things, I will be thinking of you, my friends. Bless you. And love.

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