We have always been a family of knitters. It’s what we do to relax and pass the time when we are indoors. It’s just as soothing yet more enduring than a cup of chicken noodle soup. A good knitting project occupies more time than a game of Monopoly or Ticket to Ride. And the soft yarn brings relief to fingers tired from too many hours at the keyboard. Our local yarn shop, Frau Wolle, is open during this time for individual appointments and even does yarn deliveries. To knit my way through the pandemic, I’m working on my first garment, a tank top that is off to a dubious start.
Aside from knitting, I scour the news each day for a sign that there is “Licht am Ende des Tunnels” (light at the end of the tunnel). This weekend I came across an item on German idioms for getting through a crisis. The one that stood out for me was “In Der Ruhe liegt die Kraft” (Strength lies in serenity). Berliners, who can come across as dour and grumpy in an average daily encounter, mostly exude a sense of calm in the face of the coronavirus. Toilet paper doesn’t seem to be as scarce here as it is in some places, though recently we’ve had a hard time finding flour. Not known for hugging and kissing, Germans also seem to have no problem following social distance guidelines. Cooperation and Ordnung, along with trust in government and the health care system, are generally the norm.
Berlin’s calm atmosphere is reflected within my household where four of us have been mostly secluded for the past two weeks without having any family arguments. On Friday night our older son Avery who is stuck in Southampton joined us for Shabbat via Zoom, something we never did before the pandemic. As we lit the candles and recited the blessing, his presence felt almost more real than virtual, bringing us together in peace for a few transitory moments. Like our daughter Olivia, he may also rejoin the family in Berlin if the crisis continues to disrupt his engineering work.
Our family harmony is bound to be disrupted as we work, study, teach, and do everything else from home in the coming weeks. But we are fortunate to be healthy and we’ll knit our way through the crisis, stitch by stitch, not to mention keeping the fridge stocked with wine, baking bread, taking long walks, and staying connected with loved ones online.