A year we will not forget
A year of reinventing oneself
a year of cancellations, reflections, with drawing, rewriting life
and an opportunity to take time to write.
A friend said lockdown had been good for noticing. She used to think about the day ahead on her morning walk and reflect back on what had been achieved in the evening. Now she takes time to notice, to look and listen.
In March the world stilled
humans stayed indoors, pausing
landscape in silence
The joy of those first few weeks when the roads and skies were quiet, when wildlife came out to reclaim the land, when leaves were pin-sharp against an unpolluted blue sky. When there was nothing to rush for, when the clock lost its hands and we rose with the sun and went to bed at sunset. How one could breathe in the day and relish the small moments.
Morning walks cheer us
hares run unhindered in fields
we are one with nature now
I meet other dog walkers as we patrol our rural landscape, walking the long miles through fields and lanes untroubled by traffic. I hear bird song rise and rise in chorus as spring bursts unhindered. “We are lucky,” everyone says. “We have the space to breathe.”
Green lane shrugs through fields
bole of ash, still leafing elm
old ways beckon us
Nature ventures out and I see snapshots of its life usually hidden from our trespass. Wrens chortle in the lane, bee flies emerge in abundance, flowers are a carpet of names – shirt-buttons, primrose, paigles, bacon-and-eggs, sainfoin, clover, chicory, ox-eye daisy, dandelion; they are painted across the fields. Thirty or more marsh orchids appear on the blackberry field. Friends send photographs, share news from their daily walks. I treasure their growing into nature and my own communion.
Freeze framed hare crouches
eyes meet through the hollowed hedge
I blink him free
On my walks I think about it all. I walk here every day. I am walking myself into the land, letting my story weave into those other stories, the shepherd, drover, labourer, soldier, drunkard. All passed this way. The oak has watched us, deer, hare, woodpecker, owl, the swift’s return, the skylark’s descant, the mouse hiding acorns, the wasp building its nest in the roots. The growth and the decay.
What if the only point of being here – is being here.
Elm, ash, all passing
each year the hedges grow thin
where did it go wrong?
Walking is good for the mind – it frees it to fly. I spent the weeks forging a new relationship with the earth and wonder what I can do.
Then it all falters
Press play on the pause button
Lockdown lifts lightly
Now I find the contrast makes me ache for those few weeks. The traffic doubles, the skies turn fuzzy, plane trails streak overhead, bird song recedes, hedgehogs are dying in the road. I see on the news crowds of people on beaches, in mountains, in special areas. Then they leave – and leave mountains of litter, discarded tents, bottles, fast food, camping stoves, face masks. I am ashamed to be called human.