Lockdown

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This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

Toni Morrison

The gabion baskets burst with wildflowers.  I don’t know if seeds were dropped into the baskets deliberately, or if they have taken the opportunity to root in the cracks.  As yet, they are mostly green.  But there are highlights of yellow,  pink and a touch of red.  So many varieties of flower, some in quantity, some no more than a sprig: coltsfoot, sow thistle and nipplewort, valerian, hairy violet and scarlet pimpernel; ribwort plantain, ragwort and bladder campion.  A handful of poppies has bloomed and soon the wall will be crimson with them.  I see my first ladybird of the year crawling along the wire.  My first butterfly, a red admiral, flutters onto a dandelion.

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It’s taken time to be comfortable at home again, without feeling the rooms were too small and that I had to escape.  When lockdown was just a whisper, I worried whether my panic attacks would allow me to cope with confinement.  Fortunately, they were more under control by the time lockdown became a reality.  I work from home now.  The days are often frantic.  I’m classed as a key worker, helping to provide access to critical services through our libraries.  Things change quickly, requiring a response.  I’m on my phone so often it burns my ear.

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Doggy lockdown is exhausting

But lockdown is also an opportunity.  An extra hour in bed, being at home for Winston, pottering around the house as a break.  Usually when I’m out at work, lunches are taken up with walking home and back to check on Winston.  Now I have the luxury of a half hour walk.  Each day I walk to the river, past the new houses on the bank shored up by the gabion baskets, past the former dry docks and on to the ferry landing.  There’s a steep hill to climb on the way back, so it’s a decent effort for a short walk.  I hear my first kittiwakes of the season.  Most nest further upriver on the Tyne Bridge, but for as long as I can remember there have been kittiwakes nesting on the two tall buildings at Ferry Mews.

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Rainbows painted by children appear in windows.  Every lunch time the clip clop of hooves announces the passing of a horse and gig taking advantage of quiet roads.  In lockdown, every day is Sunday.  Almost – though not quite – the Sundays of childhood, when shops were closed and the day was filled with family duty gatherings and school the next day.  I hated Sundays as a child, but I welcome the enforced Sundays of lockdown.   My days aren’t so different to those before.  Normal had already changed.  As yet, I don’t know anyone who has the virus.  It still seems far away.

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Winter returns for a few bitterly cold days, as it usually does in spring, but then it is gone once more.  In the park, the crows have begun re-building an old nest in a sycamore alongside the railway line.  He brings her twigs as she caws and settles into the nest.  They have become more territorial, chasing away gulls and wood pigeons, but they still swoop down for peanuts.  The celandine and the daisies are flowering.

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Once, I would have debated whether my writing had value in such times as these.  I would have worried that others had more important things to say, that my soft words were irrelevant.  But it’s in these times that we’re compelled to make sense of what is happening to us.  If you’re a writer,  you write.  If I don’t write now, in these strange times, then why write at all?  It doesn’t matter what I write about, it matters that I put one word in front of another.

142 thoughts on “Lockdown

  1. Lovely words and good to hear from you. I’m struggling to write or focus on much at all in our current situation and worry it’s a lost opportunity. Still, I have been in the garden plenty attacking the brambles. Take care.

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  2. It is always a pleasure to read your words, Andrea, with your intimate style that brings the reader in so quickly. You did a great job of highlighting the thoughts and concerns that many of us have, while sharing the events–of nature and humans–around you. I, too, find the walks right now are especially uplifting and energizing. Really liked Toni Morrison’s quote, and your wave with it all the way to the end.

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  3. This is a deliciously hopeful posting. Nature is such a solace and you have a lovely way of sharing that and yourself with us. Keep strong my friend and enjoy this time at home with Nature and Winston (of course.)

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  4. so good to read an inspiring post from you again Andrea. I’ve been absent again for awhile dealing with my partner ( still recovering from surgery) and children in their own places going crazy etc . The lockdown is not such a hardship for an introvert lol. But I still get out for walks on the forest paths and there is still work to be done. Your words always have meaning and hope. I love the rainbows in the windows and your lovely companion.

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  5. I love this so much. Your final thoughts are pretty much what I’ve been telling fellow writers as well. We’re going to want to write down our thoughts and feelings and observations during this time because we’ll be looking back on this, probably call it an anniversary, and wonder how we coped. I appreciate the fact you took pen to paper.

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  6. Your writing is as beautiful as ever. Yes, please keep putting one word in front of the other. It’s true that these slower times can be an opportunity to find the time for the best things in life like writing and reading your beautiful words. I love the look of doggy lockdown.

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  7. Andrea, my muse left me to cocoon on her own for so long. When I read your words they made so much sense to me: ‘But it’s in these times that we’re compelled to make sense of what is happening to us. If you’re a writer, you write. If I don’t write now, in these strange times, then why write at all? It doesn’t matter what I write about, it matters that I put one word in front of another.’ After reading those words my muse raised the covers and looked out at me with that ‘we’ve got work to do’ look. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  8. And you put one word in front of another so well. It seems you are looking at the few positives of a lockdown.. Writer or not, it seems I should be keeping some kind of record or diary for this time. You inspire us all. Glad you are able to work from home.

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  9. Good to hear your panic attacks are under control and you have adjusted to working from home. Those half an hour walks sound lovely, and I hope you have many more to come. Like the others, I agree with your closing thoughts and you summed up what many of us are feeling right now in lockdown. Everyone has something important to say and that includes you – so write to your heart’s content. Thank you for sharing so honestly.

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  10. Beautiful, – words and thoughts and pictures – oh how those bluebells make me feel homesick.!
    Your words, writers have to write pressed all my buttons… I’ve been away for a while, but like you, felt I must write at this time. We write for ourselves because we have to, don’t we…and then it’s great if it connects us to others – but that’s the bonus… Keep sending your lovely words and thoughts out into the world… XXX

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  11. One word in front of the other – I like it! Writers write. I find solace in words – my own and those of others. They tell me what I’m thinking, they help me to make sense of the sometimes incomprehensible. When I read your words, I find similarities in our lives despite the distance, the years, the life experience that separates us. Writers are compelled to write, it is what they contribute to the world. Thank you for your words – never doubt they’ve made a difference Andrea.

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  12. Pingback: My Top Ten Favourite Blogs | Bug Woman – Adventures in London

  13. Its so good to read your posts again. Especially since I’ve been feeling a little low thanks to the lockdown. It seems endless. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your posts. They come as a breath of fresh air. Thank you Andrea for writing again.💕

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