Voyage to Somewhere

About a year ago, Robin and I made plans for March of 2020 that included stocking up on a month’s worth of non-perishable food and then isolating ourselves with no contact with other people several weeks.

No, we did not prophesy the COVID-19 pandemic. We were planning a sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands – one of many places I have wanted to visit, but will not fly to because of the climate impacts of flying. So we staged our sailboat in Charleston, SC last August, and I signed up for semi-retirement teaching leave this semester to free ourselves up to make an early Spring passage, highly dependent on getting lucky with the sailing weather.

But COVID-19 got in the way of everyone’s plan on the planet, and we are among the luckiest. As Robin put it, we are still on a voyage this month, just a different voyage than we planned. It is true, bluewater sailing is great practice for pandemic isolation with your spouse! Robin and I used to being a double-handed sailing team, and we have made twenty-day passages together. On a sailing passage, you may not know when you will arrive at your destination, but at least you know how much farther you have to go and can map your daily progress in nautical miles made good. On this passage, we really haven’t figure out the destination yet.

I was already at our off-the-grid cabin when the stay-home orders started coming down, since I was taking advantage of my semester-leave from teaching to spend an entire winter in the North Country. At least Johnsburg, and Warren County have been semi-welcoming to their seasonal residents – just making the sensible request that new arrivals self quarantine and respect the limitations on resources in this rural area. And we have a great community of outdoors-oriented friends here, who we can’t see for now. Robin has been up here for three weeks, isolating the whole time. COVID-19 is up here, too- a local man somehow contracted the disease despite taking all precautions, and avoiding leaving his home except for groceries. We are so lucky to have the luxury of both deserted wilderness trails and regular UPS deliveries here, at least for now. Daily life in our mountain cabin seems nearly normal, even as we avoid any trips to town that might empty the grocery shelves or risk making us add to the demand for nonexistent hospital beds.

I am usually captain and cook on or voyages, so I have been planning meals with slow-perishing foods for years. I do not understand the run on canned red beans – dried beans are fine for preppers, I suppose, since they keep for a long time and take less space than canned. But as long as you are buying cans you might as well vary your protein sources (depending on how meat and fish-averse you are).

Here are some main course ideas that are NOT rice and beans or pasta and sauce:

Bean Burgers (I make mine with beans, oats, dried mushrooms, oil, flour, an egg, and liquid smoke)

Spanish Rice and Chicken (canned chicken)

Garbanzos Con Chorizos (dry chorizos will keep a long time)

Salmon With Potatoes and Onions (or Salmon hash, with canned salmon)

Paella with canned seafood

Risotto with Mushrooms and peppers (you can use canned peppers and mushrooms)

Curried yams and chick peas over rice

Crab cakes (made with canned crabmeat and crushed saltines)

Chinese stir fry with water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and baby corn over rice.

Well, at least my carbon footprint has dropped close to zero here at our cabin! Here’s hoping that when the world recovers from this crisis, we take advantage of the experience to rethink our relationship with air travel, food, and energy use, and make this a voyage to somewhere.

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