Well actually, it has brought up a mixture of feelings, some tantalisingly familiar, some very different. Yes, it is true I lived in a remote, peaceful community, protected in our community's physical isolation from the stresses of the 'outside world' - the hustle of city living, the constant hum of road traffic and the demands of a fast moving, answer-now society.
In Alaska, our home sat within the cushion of a deep silence where the endless magnificence of nature could be viewed from the window or experienced just one step outside our door. However in that village bubble, we could socialise, ask each other for help, check in on our neighbours and have potluck dinners and dances together. This caring community lifestyle, an integral part of the culture we became part of, was I believe the main reason I was so reluctant to return to 'civilisation'.
Māori are well aware of the importance of community living. "He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata. What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, people, people."
Although stored food supplies were no problem, my huge pantry bulged with preserves and long term food supplies gathered every summer, but living far from any hospital or well equipped medical facility, with no hope of medication arriving in time, we were fearful, drilled to listen for a local siren that would message 'pandemic plan, lockdown in your homes'. All of us had plenty of food supplies but drinking water was a different problem and my biggest worry.
The 'imported' faculty distilled local water, or alternatively fell ill to bacteria in the local water supply. This meant that gathering bottled water in case of an avian flu outbreak was of paramount importance. I still remember stacking bottles of distilled and bought water under every piece of furniture until I believed our house on stilts was going to sink into the snow and ice and if we didn't die of the flu, we would be buried alive instead.
So yes, I've found these Covid-19 times feel delicious in their familiar peace and quiet, in the return of birdsong, the friendly acknowledgements of locals, as well as the chance to spend precious time actually doing some baking.
With Anzac Day arriving this weekend, I thought it timely to retrieve my recipe for Anzac cookies that I baked in their thousands while living in the bush; the cookies I wrote about in my books. The ease of baking these biscuits - no whipping of butter and sugar needed, the on-hand ingredients making these biscuits/cookies just so quick, easy and popular that I could have spent my days far from the classroom, just pottering and baking Anzac cookies in my kitchen.
Happy Anzac Day everyone, enjoy your peacefulness, the tranquility of our beautiful surroundings, and stay well.
(Thanks to Margaret Fulton )
(Makes about 40 - and will freeze, I always doubled the recipe)
4 oz butter ( 115 gms) 1 cup rolled oats
2 tbspns boiling water 3/4 cup dessicated coconut
1 1/2 tspns baking soda 1 cup plain flour ( 4 oz)
1 tbspn golden syrup 1 cup sugar ( 8 oz)
Melt butter and golden syrup in pan over gentle heat
Add boiling water mixed with baking soda
Pour into mixed dry ingredients
Drop small spoonfuls on 2 greased baking sheets
Bake in slow oven ( 300 degrees F/ 150 C ) for 20 mins
I put them in for 10 mins then switch the trays over for last 10 mins.
Let them cool on the sheets before removing and perhaps hiding some of them