A Little Medicine for Covid Malaise

Gardenia Magnifica

I haven’t been posting lately. I seem to find excuses not to. Oh, it’s not that I don’t want to. I’ve written many posts in my head, mostly when I’m in my courtyard garden or out admiring neighbourhood gardens on my walks. So why is it so hard to transfer that to my screen? Is it part of the Covid malaise?

I have applied advice given to students complaining of writer’s block. Originally given by Ernest Hemingway I think, who said, ‘sit down at a typwewriter and open a vein.’ A very succinct way of expressing how difficult it can be to channel your innermost self.  Write something, anything, but just write. 

But this blog is about more than writing. It’s also about what I can glean from stories. I aspire to drawing analogies between the lessons my garden and the natural world give me, and living a life.

So, let me tell you the latest story. A friend brought  a Gardenia Magnifica  to my door recently. It was one she had purchased from our local Bunnings hardware and plant store. She told me if I could save the gardenia – which she doubted –  then I could keep it. The poor thing was wilted and sad. Not at all like it was when she bought it. Back then, its leaves were deep green and shiny. It had looked ‘happy’. 

‘I think I’m destined to kill gardenias,’ she lamented, looking as sad as the plant she offered. 

The gardenia seemed thirsty and yet my friend had been watering it every couple of days. I gently tapped it out of the pot and looked at its roots. They were dense and bound. The soil appeared dry and spongy. The poor thing was not absorbing the water she was giving it because the soil was hydrophobic and the pot was definitely too small. 

Immersion in a bucket of water laced with seaweed solution overnight, transformed Magnifica into a plant worthy of its name. It had dropped a few leaves but retained a flower bud which I’m confident will bloom into a heavenly scented flower which makes gardenias so favoured. My friend was delighted with the result.

Such a simple solution. Provide the plant with what it needs and it will thrive. It’s programmed to do so, because of a powerful inbuilt instinct to survive.

It seems my Covid malaise is due to what is denied me. The things I need to flourish. 

But is it?

Perhaps what I need is a ‘reset’. I draw the line at being dunked in a bucket of seaweedy water. I was thinking more along the lines of the psychological equivalent.

In Australia we are extremely fortunate. We have fared better than many countries during the pandemic. True, some Australian states like Victoria, have suffered prolonged and difficult lockdowns. Isolation is being coorrelated with increased mental illness and suicides, together with extreme loneliness and financial stress among other things.

I am grateful for being one of the fortunate ones. And the malaise is a subliminal thing. I’m not unhappy – just unable to write. I have the essential things I need to survive – and even thrive if I am honest with myself. It could simply be that my ‘thrive’ factors are changing and so I must adapt accordingly. 

 We thrive not when we’ve done it all, but when we still have more to do. – Sarah Lewis

19 responses to “A Little Medicine for Covid Malaise

  1. Thank you and thank you again Robyn. From a Victorian isolated from family but with more freedom than that family. This is a time of re-setting for sure.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Robyn, I sooo identify with your thoughts here. I have “posted” hundreds of times in my head but getting it down on paper (so to speak) has felt a burden in these last months. I need to continue to remind myself to be kind to my soul first of all. when the well has been filled, it may then flow over…blessings on you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Robyn, it’s as if you did a mind swap with my own; though my inability to create a post goes much further back than I know you do. I’ve got a couple of posts jumping around in my head, but they seem destined to stay there for the time being. I do enjoy reading other blogs, and especially your post today. Gardenias when looked after are glorious.
    Best wishes to you and your garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I find that comforting Kim. Knowing others experience the same weird glitches helps. I’m glad I hit the spot. Glad you enjoyed the gardenias. Mine are in full bud so shouldn’t be long before blooming. How I love that perfume. It’s full of memories. I had gardenias in my bridal bouquet.


  4. You’re definitely not alone. I’ve felt this myself and I’ve heard it from many others, but maybe this pandemic is causing many of us to have fallow periods that will bear fruit when the conditions are right, just like the Gardenia.

    Liked by 1 person

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