Journal of a North Country Lock-down.
Autumn is well under way, Winter is knocking on our doors – what a strange and frightening year it has turned out to be – with the dreaded Coronavirus rearing its monstrous head at the begining of the year and remaining with us – ever threatening – bringing grief, heartache and loneliness to so many of us, but also drawing out those qualities of loving kindness, caring, and willing sacrifice that humanity has always shown itself to be capable of, when disaster strikes.
When lock-down happened, the residents in my own small North Yorkshire village swiftly metamorphasised into a community of good Samaritans. We all became much more concerned for others. When someone hadn’t been seen very recently – especially an elderly person or one who lived alone; we were banging on their doors. The usual neighbourly chats and exchanges of news now invariably included enquiries as to well-being and checks to ascertain whether help of any kind was needed (and were suitably distanced). Those of us who were able to, shopped, collected prescriptions and ran all sorts of errands for neighbours who couldn’t, and whenever someone managed to obtain one of those elusive, online supermarket home delivery slots, texts flew around the village – that individual’s shopping list, like Topsy, grew and grew! The books in our tiny village library (the old telephone kiosk) flew off the shelves, were regularly replenished and many new titles donated.
Stanley and I made new friends – the ‘working from homers’ and those furloghed, joined our village dog walking circle to walk the lanes of the beautiful surrounding countryside – enjoying each other’s company as we walked to stay fit, healthy and alert – living alone and working from home can be very isolating, social contact and some lively conversation – albeit from opposite sides of the lane – helped no end.
And all around the village gardening took off – weeding, digging and planting was suddenly very fashionable – the gardeners in the village became extremely popular – sought out for their knowledge and expertise. My own garden benefited from having lock-down’s restricted boundaries – when I wasn’t writing, I redesigned a whole section of it. So let me share with you my Covid year…mainly in my garden…but also around and about.
Terrible flooding at the start of the year – we were surrounded.
Mile upon mile of countryside was under water.
Hopeful signs of Spring – the odd mention of a flu-like virus making itself felt in China.
The snow arrived to distract us.
Spring is making a welcome reappearance – the daffodils are early this year… there’s alarming news of the unknown virus rapidly spreading out from China.
The magnificence of the blossoming Magnolia is a small diversion from the ever growing numbers of people succumbing to the Covid virus – there’s talk of a nation-wide lock-down.
We are locked-down, the Covid news gets worse and worse – I seek solace in writing a story for an Anthology, ‘Yorkist Stories,’ a collection of short stories about the Wars of the Roses, (available on Amazon) to raise funds for the brave doctors and nurses of ‘Medicines Sans Frontieres’ who are often the only medical aid available in some third world countries. From my study window I can see my California Lilac in full bloom, it helps to to keep my spirits up.
Lock-down well under way. Missing and worrying about my family and friends. Relying on phone calls, Facetime and Zoom. I so miss the hugs! Early roses in bloom – I’m stuck trying to work out a scene for my new novel ‘Renegade’ – a break away from plotting is required…the arch is looking rather lonely on the edge of the terrace and the lawn.
…and so I dig a new flower bed and plant some lovely David Austin roses and lavender shrubs to keep them company… and the aphids away.
The redesign bug really gets a hold… I create a ‘shady-plant’ flower bed against a wall in a damp corner of the garden. The Hostas are very happy there.
And plant some new shrubs beneath the Silver birch.
Meanwhile the garden at the front of the house is taking care of itself…just as well really, as I don’t spend much time in it – except for a bit of weeding here and there.
It isn’t entirely neglected…Stanley loves to sun himself there…
…and we have tea on the lawn on sunny days.
In between putting together seven short stories and poems for a collection, ‘A Chorus of Seven’ (available from Amazon and Waterstones) ready for publication with author friends – to mark seven years together as a writing group, (we are known as The Scriveners) I revitalize a dull corner and dig and plant another rose bed.
Lock-down lifted – at last a reunion with loved ones.
Walking the countryside on a quiet Autum afternoon the pheasants and the deer don’t mind sharing their world with us – the Stags are getting very interested in the Hinds! Depressingly the virus is spiking again…
let me divert you a little with my poem about Autumn … when I introduced it to my writing group, the title made them chuckle.
It is included in ‘A Chorus of Seven’ along with more poems and stories written by me and my fellow Scriveners.
In the wake of summer’s exuberant frolic
hers is a gradual entrance upon Nature’s stage.
Veiled behind swirling mists and hazy skies
she glides seductively over the landscape,
entrancing us with sensuous beauty.
The crimson and gold of her costume
steals away our breath and beguiles our eyes,
blinding us to the reality beneath the glamour.
Slowly, sinuously Autumn sheds her garments
glorious colours drift softly to the ground.
When her disrobing is complete
the gnarled and withered limbs of a dying year are revealed.
So that I don’t finish entirely sadly, here’s a photo I took in the winter fields surrounding my village …
as you can see this austere season still has a beauty all of its own.
Stay safe and keep well until we have this terrible virus beaten.