Becoming a Recluse


I started to write a blog post about six weeks ago entitled, “Becoming a Recluse.”   I never dreamed it would become so apt.


The gist of the post was my decision late last fall to forego all outside commitments so that I could focus on my projects at home—spinning, weaving, dyeing, and gardening.


Because there aren’t many people giving presentations on antique wheels and flax production, those that I gave last year led to multiple offers for talks, projects, and articles.   While intriguing, what I really wanted to do was hunker down at home with my fleeces, wheels, loom, and plants.  So, I said “no” to everything, with the explanation that for the next year I wanted no commitments, but rather to stay at home to make things, grow things, and do nothing at all.

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George and I decided that we would ease up on the projects at home, too, planning to spend more time relaxing and savoring the seasons.  I should have been more careful with what I wished for.


All of those outside obligations (had I taken them on) have been cancelled.  My wish became a mandate.  And doesn’t that change everything?  What had been a wonderful few months of very sweet contentment, waking every morning to do just what I wanted–mostly weaving and spinning–is now infused with worry.

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The slow motion aspect of this disaster makes it especially surreal.

IMG_4520A tsumani of illness, turmoil, and economic devastation is headed our way and we can’t do much but watch and hope that it won’t be as bad as we imagine.  Sometimes lack of imagination is a good thing.


We are well suited for this lockdown, by our natures and the relative self-sufficiency of a life in rural Maine.  I have enough books to read and fleeces to spin to last for years.


Our neighborhood and town are supportive and caring.  But so many lives will be devastated.  I fear that the coming year will be horrific and hope that our democracy survives intact.


Still, spring is coming, virus or not.   I will be starting my garden seedlings this week, with plans for a big garden.


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I spin and weave every day and continue to work on my rescue wheels (which will outlive us all).


The dogs are their usual charming, sweet selves,


and the sky continues—as always–to put on a glorious show.


Please stay healthy, sane, creative, and resilient.   Take care of yourselves.



32 thoughts on “Becoming a Recluse

  1. Nice to see your post, Brenda. Glad you are all well and yes, quite adapted to staying at home. 🙂 Your weavings are amazing! Your room seems quite full of wheels, etc. now. Ever thought of writing a book about weaving or repairing wheels/looms? Now would be a good time! You’d be able to reach more people and it would be like a talk that goes on for perpetuity, not to mention royalties. 🙂
    Stay safe and well.

    • I think most of us blogger-types have a step up on others when it comes to being happy at home. I’ve been really immersed in weaving, wheels, and other old fiber tools this past year and it’s given me a cat-purring contentment to create fabric from fleece and to delve into the world of the wheel makers and the role of fiber production in early New England households. Maybe when I’m 80 (if I live that long–knock on a Corona bottle), I’ll know enough to write a book. In the meantime, in an attempt to distract my racy-stressy-our-world-will-never-be-the-same-again mind, I started another blog a few days ago cataloging my wheels and other fiber tools.

      I hope you are weathering this well. Being outside is a wonderful balm, isn’t it? Can’t wait to really get my hands in the soil and start growing things again. It’s still a bit frozen up here, but this week should be a good one for garden prep.

      Stay well and in touch.

  2. I came right over when I saw you in my inbox – what a treat this Friday. Yes, the wish to have time for hobbies didn’t exactly include ‘not’ being able to out if you wanted. 🙂 I’m an introvert and can usually find solace in my sewing and gardening, but this is a kind of unsettling feeling, and I must admit I’m doing it to keep busy, but I’m not enjoying it a lot. Will we come out the other side of this, yes, I think so, but can we get the images out of our head in order to go back to our normal routine? I only go to the grocery store when I absolutely have to because the empty shelves and freezer units puts a fear in the pit of my stomach. So, we’re eating what we have, not going hungry, and waiting with everyone else to see how long this takes. I do wish we could convince ‘everyone’ to hunker down so this is over sooner than later. Take care and stay safe.

    • I’m glad to see that you are back home. We had intended to take a trip to Georgia to see our kids next week, but … well … guess not. The craziness of this is not knowing what is going to happen from one day to the next. While I hate being so far from my children and grandchildren right now, my big fear was getting stuck in Georgia and not being able to get home for who-knows-how-long, camping out in my daughter or son’s basement, with our dogs stuck in a boarding kennel.

      Solace is such a good word. Just what we need now to keep our heads from exploding (beaches and bars on St. Simons still crowded last night!). But, how to take comfort in little things while the world as we know it is gradually unraveling? Take care yourself and battle those damn crazy snake worms.

    • They dodged a bullet and left Asia just ahead of the pandemic. They are now settling into a new home in Georgia and REALLY glad not to be traveling while this is going on. Enjoy your beautiful yard, with all those spring blossoms, and stay healthy Cuz.

  3. Lovely to see your post. Yes, crafters and gardeners are well suited for lockdown, I certainly won’t miss not going out as I’ll cycle and endlessly walks dogs, paint and garden. Love your creations and those sweet dogs. Take good care of yourselves and keep us

    • You and I think alike. Lots of dog walks and full speed ahead on a huge garden this year. Nothing like growing things during a pandemic! I’m planning on enough veggies for winter freezing and storage, with lots to give away, too. Give your pups an extra hug and scratch for me and love to all your rescue beasties (and your lovely grandbaby).

  4. Brenda, I am so happy to see you post again. I understand about you making the decision not to make outside commitments so you could slow down a bit and do the things that make you happy. There’s a lot to be said about doing nothing! I think I am quite good at it LOL. I know a lot of people are freaking out about being home all this time but I’m perfectly fine with it. I’ve got several projects inside and outside to keep me busy and books to read when I feel like reading. We will get through this and be stronger for it.

    Love your weaving and your precious pups! Be well and stay safe!

    • Thanks Beth. You’re right about doing nothing. I’m getting there. Years of working, with never enough time to do everything, put my brain in must-get-this-done mode. It’s taken several years of retirement to unwind from that attitude. We were headed to Georgia next week and hated to have to cancel. I hope your beaches are thinning out now. We’re heading down to the ocean this week for a good hike. Love your shots of the marshes. Georgia’s so beautiful this time of year.

  5. So nice to see you again! And so nice to hear how well adapted you are to these isolating times. I am a homebody myself, so not feeling too alone yet–and my files and closets are quite clean. Craft projects and writing may come next, as well as a few house projects and the garden…Stay well and work on your planned projects!

    • Ha. I keep telling myself that this is a great opportunity to do some deep cleaning. And then I tell myself that I could be dead in a month and I really don’t want to spend my last days cleaning. Good excuse, eh? I hate housework. I’d much rather scrabble about in the garden, so that’s where I’ll be. Are you able to do your community garden in this stay-at-home time? Thank goodness we’re heading into spring and outside time–it should ease transmission of the virus, I hope. Happy projects and gardening, I’ll be checking in on your blog. Stay well to you!

      • Thanks. Yes, many gardeners have been in their plots, keeping to a distance of six feet while weeding and digging. I’m going to write something soon!

  6. Lovely to see your post and such beautiful photos! You express well some the emotions I feel about this pandemic. While I relish the time to spend at home, the unpredictability of events are unsettling. However we intend to do just what you are doing.. enjoying every day in our garden and home.

    • It’s hard to feel so helpless while this unfolds. I hope we don’t all end up sewing facemasks. You all barely had time to breathe from the fires and now this. I want to say “out of the frying pan and into the fire” but clearly that’s a bit off! How has the government been responding in Australia?

      • The government has responded quickly, but we have so many state governments, as well as the Federal government, giving advice, so lots of mixed messages. The fires seem to bring out the best in everyone, and the Caronavirus is mixed..hoarding etc.

  7. So pleased you have updated us Brenda. Lovely photos. Your self sufficiency is certainly going to be a bonus over the next few? months. Activities, commitments and life can get so busy, so in a way it is quite a relief to be able to just step back and concentrate on art, crafts, garden and maybe even do some of those housework jobs that have been put off. Yes you must take time to just take it slow and take time to just look at the garden (even though you will probably see jobs waiting to be done!) and appreciate nature. I’m sure this turmoil will eventually pass, but I think it will leave a different world behind it.

    • Yes, we’ll have plenty of time to step back and concentrate on home pursuits. We are the lucky ones to have have the room and inclination to do so. I suspect that we will see changes in the world that we haven’t even really anticipated yet. My reading is inclined toward the plague these days, “Kristin Lavransdatter” and “The Great Mortality.” Oddly comforting to put things in historical perspective.

      • I think it is going to change for the better, especially in environmental department, when we’ve all adjusted. I’m reading Bill Bryson “Down Under” a nostalgic look at Australia. Love his humour…

  8. Brenda, It’s great to see your update. I too quickly came to the realization that imposed solitude feels different from chosen solitude. Still, those of us who are homebodies and like solitude have a leg up on those extraverts who need lots of social stimulation. Because I live alone and don’t have any regular contact with neighbors, and because all my usual spring activities have been canceled, I’ve been working on setting up digital face-to-face interactions.
    I’ve been worrying about our local farmers, but today I discovered that the U. Maine Cooperative Extension has created a map of farmers, many of whom usually rely on sales to restaurants, who are now offering the farm equivalent of curbside pickup for fresh produce:

    • Yes, we are fortunate in many ways. I imagine that you really miss your activities–thank goodness for technology. And being outside this spring will be a wonderful balm. Our neighborhood has set up an email group so that we can exchange information, have some social contact, and help anyone who needs it. In fact, our little town has been wonderful in stepping up in many ways.
      Thanks for the link to the extension map–what a wonderful idea. We are doing everything we can to help out local farmers and small businesses in hopes that they can make it through this. We all depend on them so much.
      I’m itching to get out in the garden but it’s still a bit too cold. Soon.
      Take care of yourself.

  9. Hi Brenda, Lovely to see a post from you I haven’t been doing much blogging for far too long. You seem to have been all ahead of us choosing to become a recluse before we have all been forced to do so. In just a few days we have slowed down and noticed more around us. Take care too and stay safe. Sarah xxx

    • Hi Sarah, I haven’t even been reading blogs very much these past six months–let alone posting. I suspect I’ll be reading them a lot more! I thought I was becoming a recluse, but realize now how much interaction I still had–walks with a neighbor, yoga, the library, book group, weaving group. I value those connections more than I had realized. If I’m missing them, I fear that this imposed isolation will drive extroverts absolutely crazy. You’re right, though. This may be a time for people to realize the sweet upside of slowing down and appreciating the small beauties, pleasures, and kindnesses that we often slide right by. It’s going to be an interesting ride. Take care and keep us posted!

  10. The months you took to focus on your craft and savoring the day-to-day sound very sweet. There will still be time to go out and about when this is over. Yes, the news is scary, but frankly I have been trying to restrict my news intake as I, like most people, have limited ability to change things. However, I will do the things that I can, and make the best of the current circumstances. I wish I had a talent like yours but there is still the garden, which is slowly emerging into spring. Like you I will soon be starting seeds indoors, which means cleaning all the seed-starting stuff for right now.

    • You are very wise and absolutely right Jason. I am making a real effort to restrict my news intake, also. It’s just too overwhelming. But it is a bit like watching a tsunami approach from the shore. I feel as if I’ve climbed the highest tree I can find and will hang on and hope for the best, but I still can’t tear my eyes off the approaching wave. It will feel really good to plant this year. Be careful, stay safe, and garden on.

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