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The Pandemic Won't Take The Pinecones

Written by Mia McTigue-Rodriguez

Illustration by Jorge Garcia Redondo

It might seem like we are doomed. Like Halloween treats are unsalvageable and no Christmas cracker will hold the prize we really want. And yes, we’ll need to mask up as we enter the colder months. Yes, it will be strange and confusing and different. This does not, however, mean we must become sour-faced Grinches. There are still so many traditions and comforts to look forward to, regardless of the stressful situations this year has flung at us all.

The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important. - Mark Manson

We can care immensely about each other's well beings, and acknowledge the awfulness happening globally, while still focusing on what is happening now. There are simple, satisfying solutions to celebrate in the autumn months, despite the chill and the anxieties about where has the year gone? We feel cold. We wrap up. We make soup. Solved. These things matter because no good decisions have ever been made with a rumbling stomach. Because a warmed soul is a happier, more capable one. Because it feels good to be good to yourself. To feed others and to face what’s next with strength.

There will be blustering walks home from the pub. There will be bread and butter pudding still bubbling in its tray. Lazy apple crumbles made with your eyes still half-closed on Sunday mornings. Pasta bakes prepared with your sister, lips festively stained with red wine. Vegetables will be ceremoniously roasted and molten jam wrestled into jars for gifting and spooning into hungover mouths with teaspoons.

There will be brownies, with a mixture so silky and with smells so earthy and inviting that it may remind you of Charlie and the chocolate factory, and muddy puddles, or the smell of toasting chestnuts on Oxford Street, wafting through the glowing Christmas lights, up to where you once sat on your father’s shoulders. Your personal parade.

On frosty days there will be cheese filled toasties to tear in half and share with a new love. You may wait for the filling to bubble and ooze from the charred bread in anticipation. There may still be a delicious distance between you both.

When we must go outside we may grumble as the icy winds burn our throat and our legs begin to feel like they are walking through syrup. But then, winding thick scarves around our necks like stringing lights on a Christmas tree, plunging our feet into knitted socks and wellington boots, we create a shield from the cold. We find a way. We stride down city streets - or clamber over chalky cliffs, towards the woods with their patchy trees. We collect chestnuts, wincing at the spiky armour they wear. Our dogs might pretend to help, scouring the uneven ground with wet noses, snuffling any of the nuts which have escaped their shells. There will be rope swings to climb upon and diving through the air will feel purposeful, as though the branches were expecting Max to arrive and play with his wild new friends all along. The grey sky might darken, and phones may become torches, guiding us to our cars, where we will sit and shiver, and smile. Our hands will defrost. And then there will be Yorkshire puddings, cloudlike and crisp, and glossy gravy, a liquid comfort. A reward for braving the outside world. The plates will be filled. The pinecones will be waiting.

Want to read more of Mia's writing? She wrote for our first Issue too! Find her piece about Cookies for a Crisis here.


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