Susan Silver Levy
"Little did I realize all those nights around the kitchen table, bartering sheep and brick for ore and wood, amounted to training that would help me survive quarantine."
It’s been ten years since we bought our first strategy board game: Settlers of Catan. Having survived the mind-numbing years of Chutes and Ladders and Candyland, and the gloating/pouting stages of Monopoly and Battleship, we felt ready for a game that involved negotiating and tactically acquiring the necessary resources to prosper among the other settlers of this imaginary land called Catan.
Little did I realize that all those nights around the kitchen table, bartering sheep and brick for ore and wood, amounted to training that would help me survive, if not thrive, in our self-quarantine during the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020.
I have a primary immune deficiency; I’m one of those “high risk” people, along with the elderly and other fragile members of our community. Yet I am also responsible for feeding my family of five, plus my 90- and 93- year-old parents, who are sequestered in their apartment a few miles away. We began a self-quarantine on March 12, and we try to survive with minimal trips for groceries.
When our governor announced an all-state lockdown until June 10, friends offered to help me with whatever supplies I needed. The other day, that need was hearing aid batteries for my father.
Like a true Settler of Catan, I had to think of what I could barter in return.
Fortunately, while I had no wool and ore, I had flour and a love of baking. Baking is my art, therapy, me-time, and sensory salve, all at once. Judging from the empty shelves and preponderance of social media posts about sourdough and banana bread, I’m not alone.
I traded lemons for some yeast from one friend, and swapped flour for eggs with another. My doorstep became a swap meet with various ingredients lined up—each item waiting for its new owner to arrive, ring my doorbell with an elbow, and take it home while leaving the agreed-upon exchange.
I got busy, mixing, kneading, rising, waiting, punching, rising, punching, kneading, braiding, waiting, waiting, baking—enjoying the satisfaction of pounding my fear and frustration into a blob of undefined sticky dough, followed by the heavenly aroma of warm Challah bread. In the end, the effort yielded multiple loaves for my household, my parents, and the beloved friend who drove the aforementioned hearing aids (plus fresh bread) to my parents.
I wonder what next week’s challenge will be. I hope my supply of flour will suffice.
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