Lockdown

During the past eight months since I last wrote, my husband and I have been through hell and back from a health standpoint. That meant that we spent a lot of time together in our little cottage. By January, we were having trouble. He was chafing under the medically-imposed quietude; I was chafing under the stress of it all. I began trying to write for this blog around then and there are two full drafts, very different in tone and mood, sitting waiting for me to do something with them. But I couldn’t.

Then, as he started feeling better, my own health issues hit me square in the face (and him, by proximity) and there was another couple of months of enforced inactivity. Although we’d been following it in the news and were quite aware, by the time the real scope of Covid-19 hit the world, about mid-February, as I was preparing for surgery and follow-up (thankfully it did occur) we were already fairly isolated, so taking it a bit further was just more of the same. By March, we’d stopped going out for anything other than necessities. By mid-March, we’d begun requesting telephone appointments with doctors wherever possible. By the time the Government mandated lockdown occurred, it was old hat for us.

Poor, Buddy. We’ve been friends since he was a puppy and he just doesn’t understand social distancing.

We worked through the cabin fever back in February, and we were in a new world. We’d been in training for the new world for seven months, by then. So, when we were told to stay home, we stayed home … except for groceries, meds, medical visits if they cannot be conducted by telephone, and one form of exercise a day — for us, a walk with the dog. The poor dogs have been hard hit. They don’t understand social distancing. All they know is that the humans that used to fuss them and give their ears a scritch won’t come near or touch them anymore.

The world feels different. Well, it is different, but I can feel it in the air. The silence. The sweetness as I inhale. It feels as if I’m in some kind of bubble. Protected. Solitary.

It looked so lonely, all by itself in the middle of the hedgerow.

It helps that Spring has absolutely sprung, here. The warmth and sunshine are so healing. It’s easy to forget the world exists.

The lowering sun caught this lone Anemone, isolating it from the leaves and Marsh Marigolds around it

I often wonder if this is how the people who built this place 300 years ago, felt; or, the Danes and Saxons who lived here a thousand years ago. Did they walk everywhere, never going more than a mile or two from home? How much of the world did they know without the Encyclopedia Britannica or Google? I do know that to this day, there are people in the area who have never been to the next village, two miles down the road, let alone travelled. They have everything they need where they are, so why go anywhere else?

A lone walker crosses the field on the footpath system.

These days, a lot more people are walking through our hamlet. Families, older couples. We’ve always had some. I live in the hamlet time forgot and it’s beautiful. Especially at snowdrop time in January and bluebell time in May, they come through in large groups, gasping and appreciating. There are no large groups, these days. The most we’ve seen at once is a family of five walking through.  Luckily, we were able to back ourselves away from the lane to let them pass. Apparently, our girl has been barking at them every time they walk by. Normally, I’d have introduced her and the kids would have loved how soft and gentle she is, but we can’t do that right now. So, I crouched down next to her and put my arm around her neck and scrubbed her ear with my fingers a little.

“Oh! She’s a real softy!” exclaimed the mother, as I did. “See, you don’t have to be afraid!” she said to the taller boy. “She’s a softy!”

“She really is,” I replied with a smile.

“I wasn’t really afraid,” said the boy, who looked to be about ten and just dying from embarassment. I told them our girl’s name and suggested they say hello to her as they walk by our gate. She likes that, especially when she’s been introduced to someone. And we moved on. They went their way; we went ours.

When I have to go shopping every week to ten days, other people are an intrusion. Some people go to incredible lengths to avoid coming near; others have a distinctly less than careful approach. It feels like a violation at this point. Thankfully, since the Government began to take it seriously, everyone else has begun to, as well … mostly … so the two meter rule is in play in queues. Security holds you at the door until someone has left, so they control the numbers in the store. Most people are being fairly cheerful. Some are resigned that they will lose their small businesses. A mother of five children wonders how she’s going to keep them all fed with all the purchase restrictions in place. So many things are limited to two per shopper. You make friends when you queue with them for 45 minutes to get in for groceries. One thing we all agree on is … thank goodness, it isn’t January and it’s a dry Spring! Last year, this would have been just miserable.

The Daffodils were later this year, blooming in March, rather than February, but they came up in a wondrous way.

And as March rolled on toward full lockdown, other signs of Spring were manifesting.

My camera often goes with me on my daily walk. This is a tad controversial in some circles. Apparently, EXERCISE IS EXERCISE!!!!!!!! According to the most irritatingly officious, if you’re taking a picture while taking that exercise you’re selfish and putting everyone around you in danger. Since there’s virtually nobody around where I live, for the most part, that argument holds no water. Besides, I don’t always take my camera. Sometimes, I only have my phone … but it has a great camera.

Meet Melody, in this photo taken with my phone. She’s one of the newest additions to our hamlet. We’re already becoming friends and between her and Bailey (named for his Baileys Irish Cream coloured mustache – I’ll get a picture one day) on our side of the hamlet, I may need to buy stock in a carrot farm!

Melody comes over to say hi.

In other news, the Canadians are back! They got here in full force (14 of them!!!) in February and spent a couple of weeks deciding who was going to parent here. We’re calling them Ralph and Alice after the originals that we met eight years ago, but we actually think they are one of the Goslings born over the last few years. The male is much smaller. Ralph has been spending an awful lot of time alone, so I’d be willing to bet Alice is with egg and we’ll see Goslings at the first week or so of May.

The Canadians are back!

And so I leave you with this lovely from my garden. I just happened to be outside at the perfect moment.

This Tulip doesn’t see direct sunlight until late in the day, when the light turns golden. So lovely.

I’ll bring more tales of life in lockdown … and life in general … as we move forward.  Stay safe, everyone. Stay home unless you have to leave and please stay safe.

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