I have been out and about on the backroads (the majority of roads out here are back roads) looking for this winter's hunting partner. I am hoping for a kestrel or a red tail, and either would be lovely, but so far no luck.
I would have already had a bird by this time, most seasons in the past. But I didn't even start trapping until around Mabon and rides out to do nothing but look for birds have been pretty sparse compared to the past. I started really get down on myself about this yesterday morning. Feeling so behind in, of all things, hobbies. Things I used to do for joy feel sapped of it. Which makes me wonder if I am depressed? Broken? Confused?
I don't think so. I don't think any of us are broken, but many of us are drained of the energy we used to put into socializing, hobbies, and fun.
I find that two years into this pandemic it isn't the weather, or having a new roommate, or laziness, or time that is keeping me from riding and hiking and hunting. It's this feeling heavy in my chest that things aren't normal because they aren't. And doing normal things—especially recreational things that are high-energy—have been avoided because a moment to rest without the horrific news, pandemic fear, or our unraveling climate crisis has been so rare and sacred to me that using that time to do anything taxing feels unreasonable. At least right now.
Which isn't to say I haven't spent time in the woods, or ran hundreds of miles, or rode my horses. I am out trapping. The farm has never been in better shape... I've done all these things and the care of my equipment and animals has stayed well above board. But energy-intense fun things have fallen aside and for months I blamed this on myself. I was angry about how I was trying to protect myself and my remaining positive energy by wrapping it up in a blanket with a hot mug of tea. Didn't the old Jenna run 10 miles in a storm? Shoot a hundred arrows? Ride a horse at a full gallop up a mountain? Yes. And she will again. But right now she needs a nap.
I no longer feel this is an act of neglect of my hobbies. I feel that they are on hold while the world heals up a bit. I don't want to hike AT sections near me worried about passing strangers and wether they are vaccinated or not. I don't want to tack up a horse and hold my thighs in a point position if I can steal 30 minutes of sleep after a restless night worrying. And I don't want to spend 100 hours trapping a bird away from home. If I don't catch one in 40 hours of trapping, perhaps this will be a year without training and hunting with a hawk or falcon. Maybe that is exactly what I need?
I am not sure.
I can say that when I do get out into the woods, or on my horse, or do something like Wednesday Nights book event at Battenkill Books in town (outdoors) - I do feel better. And there is no animosity towards these things. But allowing myself to rest more feels like medicine these days. My mornings are so full of farm chores, work, emails, and job hunting that when 3PM rolls around and I find I have nothing to take to the post office and there's an hour before evening feeding - I am swaying in a hammock and rereading Harry Potter.
I felt compelled to share this because there is nothing wrong with taking a step back or doing less for your own sanity while it feels like the world is falling apart. I have this farm to ground me, to take away my anxiety, to give every day purpose and promise. And some days just taking care of this place is exhausting beyond a 10 mile run. And so this fall perhaps trapping isn't what I even need? Maybe it's the release of my own self-imposed regulations of recreation and that is okay.