Meanwhile

Suddenly there are leaves.  Tissues of green illuminated by the afternoon light.  Dabs of lime like fireflies strung across dark branches.  Suddenly there are lacy florets waving from boughs of ash.  Spindly posies springing from maple twigs.  And suddenly there is blossom, wanton wild cherry blossom.  The trees have come to life and suddenly we will forget that they were ever bare.

There is a space in the town centre that was once a small bank.  Now, its empty rooms host abstract paintings and strange installations.  In the old, walk-in safe, a video plays of a buoy silently blinking Morse code over a dark sea.  Upstairs, artists work in makeshift studios.  Sometime in the future this will become a shop or a bank once more.  For now, it is known as a ‘meanwhile space’.  It is a pause between two existences: what it was and what it will become.  And in the meanwhile, it is a crucible for creation.

Lockdown is a ‘meanwhile space’.  A time between what we were and what we might become.  Our eyes have been opened to mountain vistas and clear waters, to clean air and wild animals roaming empty streets.  Amid the fear, uncertainty and boredom, many people are using this as ‘meanwhile’ time.  A time to do things they wouldn’t usually have time to do, or to prepare themselves for who they want to be when this is over.  We are baking, dancing, singing, writing.  We are learning and making art.  We have glimpsed the magic of what could be normal if we were to act as though we are a part of the world and not above it.

The physical world has shrunk again.  All the car parks have been closed along the coast to prevent people going there.  Life is something that happens nearby.  The life of my street is more important than ever before.  I pay closer attention to the Herb Robert flowering between the cracks in a neighbour’s path, the tiny hearts of shepherd’s purse in the gutters, the ivy leaved toadflax and dandelions growing out of walls.  The colony of sparrows on our street makes rowdy music as they flutter from the privet at the end of the lane, from roof to roof, all along the road.  Gulls glide over, wings lit up by the sun.  I can hear the crows’ soft caw as an undertone.  And in the night, foxes slink along the middle of the road.

Under the cherry trees in the park, bees hum and blue tits chitter.  The sun blazes white through white.  I sit against a gnarled trunk and feel the levity of the blossom.  The trees are parasols of light, voluptuous with snowy flowers.   It won’t last long, this perfect flowering, when the green of bud gives way to the burst of white.  After only a week there will be a tinge of brown to the blooms.  The ground is already littered with fallen blossom.

The grass hasn’t had its first cut of the season yet.  It is a shaggy hearth rug, patterned with daisies and dandelions.  Clumps of grass grow long and yellow at the tips.  There are whorls of cow parsley and tiny tree saplings that wouldn’t normally have had the chance to grow.  I watch my world from beneath the cherry blossom.  A recent poll showed that only 9% of Britons want to go back to ‘normal’ when this is over.  And yet we haven’t left the world behind, we have only left the way we normally behave in it.  I want to grasp this time, to wring from it anything that is extraordinary.  I want to be changed by it.  But meanwhile, there is cherry blossom and birdsong and the certainty of spring.

130 thoughts on “Meanwhile

  1. This is a beautiful post Andrea. I love your term “meanwhile space” and hope something new and more harmonious comes out of it. And meanwhile, I can enjoy early spring with your beautifully descriptive writing that always takes me along your journey. Sentences like this; “The trees are parasols of light, voluptuous with snowy flowers.” Thank you and take good care of yourself.

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  2. You were born to capture this point and place in time with your photos and prose. I love your idea of this being a meanwhile time and how we can use it to become whatever we want or were meant to be. You remind me of the lovely British novelists of bygone days who could turn a landscape into a place you wanted to visit and never leave. Thanks for taking us along on your magical journey through Springtime in Britain.

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  3. Couldn’t have put it better myself,always food for thought(this time or any time) must be age or questioning ones mortality and where we fit in and have we been part of it?Hope all well!

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  4. Never as in this period touched the sense of Void… Too, the sensation of crossing an intersection. Never will be the same, after.

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  5. Yes, we are in the ‘meanwhile’ time, an in between time of what was and what is to come. I hope it will be a better coming time. The future is unknown but we do have the present and it is the wondrous re-birth time of Spring. Thanks for capturing this special time with your amazing gift of words.

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  6. Andrea, how wonderful it is to share this awakening of new life with you.
    Your words are lyrical with joy of what you see and why shouldn’t you be.
    It is a new wonder each time. Each bud, each flower. So let our heart be filled
    with these heavenly gifts.

    I noticed that you said that only 9% of Britons don’t want to go back to life as it was. That makes my heart sing. It means they have found that life can be good without the constant rush, you can just earn your living in different employment or tempo. Maybe the many hours in motor way traffic can halve,
    Maybe more creativity within each country both for earning and beauty…..

    I feel changed by it and hear so many who say the same.

    Miriam

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  7. I so love that “meanwhile space”. It is the perfect term for what we are currently living. A chance to stop and be and reflect on what we want moving forward.
    Beautiful images, Andrea and a lovely, thoughtful prose…

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  8. It will be interesting to see what changes last beyond the lockdown. I have no doubt that the pandemic will leave its mark upon us in many ways, let’s hope the change is for the better. ❤

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  9. This is a beautiful post, Andrea. It’s so strange, but despite the horrors of the virus, I find myself more at peace than I’ve been in years. Thanks for sharing. And of course, I always love to see sweet Winston. He makes me smile.

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  10. Ah, what a beautiful, eloquent word picture you paint. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Our flowering trees are still very tentative, but they will find the right time to burst forth into bloom.

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  11. Thank you for taking me along on your meander under the flowering cherries, observing all of spring’s fleeting gifts in such exquisite, poetic detail. Your prose brought me into the moment, in intimate detail, and I loved every second of it.
    If this is “meanwhile,” I want to savor it. No rush.

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  12. Hauntingly beautiful thoughts, Andrea. We can all say ‘Amen’. What a huge relief to see of our frenetic, stress-filled human world slowing down, travelling less and learning to enjoy the simple things of life. The petals of spring may fall, but I believe God has not finished with this world. Listening to the dawn chorus this week is reminding me of his new day of promise ahead. How wise to begin each day with song!

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  13. “Lockdown is a meanwhile space”….are you kidding me? That line, and the first paragraph,, that is writing worthy of great awards. Simply superb, and even that praise does not do this justice. Bravo, my friend. It is such a joy to read writing like this.

    Blessings to you always

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  14. Beautiful, ad always. It never fails to astonish me how spring arrives literally overnight. Everything seems to hesitate until that one warm rain.

    “ I want to grasp this time, to wring from it anything that is extraordinary.” I am savoring this time, too. There will be no return to the “normal” that we once knew. It will most likely be a continuous meanwhile, of some kind, from now on.

    Enjoy your blossoms.

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  15. A lovely, peaceful read which truly reflects how many of us feel at the moment, despite the uncertainty and sadness. I hope one of the changes is a decision to leave the grass in the parks and give the wild flowers a chance. So much better for the insects.

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    • I hope so, I see there’s been quite a bit of discussion about reducing the amount of times motorway verges are mowed to increase the wildflowers there. They already leave ‘edges’ in the park where things like nettles grow which will be good for the butterflies.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Hello, Andrea. If only there were more like-minded people; wouldn’t the world be a better place? Your post is wonderful, and a pleasure to read. Although the Sky is grey at the moment and a light drizzle falls, your words and pictures bring back the Sunshine.
    I hope that all’s going well for you, Andrea. Take care when you’re out and about; keep safe.

    Mick.

    P.S. Winston looks well.

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    • Good to see you Mick, I was wondering when I’d get my next instalment of Sid and I see it’s there waiting. We’ve had very little grey and very little rain – we could do with just a bit more. Winston is fine, currently watching the world go by on the windowsill.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you, Andrea, for your intelligent thoughts, as always.
    I like the idea of a ‘meanwhile’ time but I am finding it difficult to get painting. My creativity has taken other routes – baking, supporting the children, defrosting the freezer(!). But I am in hope that the painting will return to the centre soon.

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  18. Beautiful writing and interesting ideas, Andrea. Spring is absolutely wonderful this year; though today has been so cold and wet! I love all your blossom pictures and Winston is looking well, too.
    Unlike many of the people who have commented here I am quite stressed and unable to concentrate. I do hope there will be changes for the better after this pandemic fades; I have really appreciated the community I live in and the kindness shown by so many.

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    • There were various things mentioned that people appreciated more now, such as a greater sense of community, the ability to do things like cook from scratch, cleaner air and more wildlife. 54% said they’d make changes as a result. Let’s hope that positive attitude for change lasts!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting! Yes, I have noticed cleaner air here too, and we have not eaten out since the first week of March, so we are reviving our enjoyment of cooking, as you mention. Many fun things!

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Andrea, Thank you. Once again, your beautiful writing is like a caress to my soul. And I can’t even handle how lovely the photos you shared are along with your prose. Thank you so very much for sharing… ❤

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  20. Meanwhile is a perfect word for this time. Everything seems so different now. On one hand it’s a time of unprecedented (at least modern) death and illness. On the other hand, the world around me sounds quieter and the night skies are darker. My garden has never looked more beautiful. This is the first real spring we’ve had in North Carolina in decades. It’s as if nature is in a healing phase. Or maybe I am? Be well, Andrea.

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  21. “… and suddenly we will forget that they were ever bare.” This phrase touched me profoundly, Andrea, in the context of the current lockdown. Hopefully, suddenly we’ll forget this strange, surreal time ever happened. Or maybe not …
    What is it about your nature-narratives that I find riveting and compelling? You are gifted with words. Thank you. Lots of love, Sonali xx

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  22. A meanwhile space and cherry trees. Peace and acceptance of this day, just as it is. These are the messages I take from this exquisite post, Andrea. The perfect message. Thank you ❤️️

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  23. Lovely description of nature around us in this quiet time. Also really like how you described this lockdown and empty spaces as ‘meanwhile space’. I think that is so apt. They are spaces waiting there, waiting for us to come and bring life to them once more. It’s just a matter of time before things start up once again. In the meantime, we can enjoy what is all around us. Stay well.

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  24. Pingback: The View from Here: Somewhere Over the Rainbow – A Corner of Cornwall

  25. The metaphor of meanwhile time and meanwhile space is packed with waste and hope. That is a prophetic post that freezes you in the middle of existence, forcing you to introspect and wonder.

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  26. Ah yes, meanwhile. You captured the way I feel about it perfectly, Andrea. And then there’s Colbert’s word “quarantinewhile.” Thank you for all these gorgeous photos, glowing with life. You created a wonderful image in my mind with your description of the former bank/now studio. Hugs on the wing.

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  27. A beautiful reflection. I love ‘Lockdown is a ‘meanwhile space’. A time between what we were and what we might become.’ Like you, I want to ‘grasp this time, to wring from it anything that is extraordinary. I want to be changed by it,’ for the better. I’m turning toward a ‘new normal’. Your writing is inspiring.

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  28. Your observations are always enjoyable but in this time your style of writing is perfect. It is wonderful to appreciate nature and not have to tand near people. I do wonder how many of the people who don’t want to go back to normal after this will stick to that wish when things do begin to settle down.

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  29. ‘Meanwhile space’ – love that. The amazing weather during April has certainly helped to ease the discomfort, strangeness and lack of access to our usual comforts. And you’re right Andrea, this meanwhile space has given us pause, has given us a glimpse into what might become a better future.

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  30. It is a joy and honor to read your words, follow your wisdom and look around your town and street, Andrea. I love the description of the old bank that is now a “crucible for creation” and it leading into the “Meanwhile space” that we are all in now. Your writing, your thoughts, are a breath of fresh air…thank you for sharing it here.

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  31. How lyrical your way of seeing this in-between time! Perhaps the future will be a version of this meanwhile mode, but it is difficult for our species to live without the illusion of control.

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  32. Oh, Andrea, we are channeling the same muse:). I have just read your post after posting one of my own on ma–the space in between things. Which is the same as your “meanwhile” space. I love it when great minds think alike:). I think those of us that write are used to sitting with the less than comfortable. But oh so many (too many) people here in the States are chafing to not have to dig deep. I am hoping they have to . . . we’re in sore need of some introspection.

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  33. Beautiful words of reflection, Andrea, in the unfolding of a new refreshing season. Let us hope we are so inclined to emerge with such beauty and life as nature has shown us how. Thank You! You’re writing is always so lovely and poetic.

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  34. So insightful. So beautifully expressed. I want some things to be normal as I knew them. And I want some things to change. To go back to living on the earth the way we did as if this hadn’t happened would be such a lost opportunity for humanity.

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  35. It is, indeed, a meanwhile time, Andrea. I love that your little bank has been repurposed, and, of course, the amazing photos of spring around you. And you are so right – we should see what we can gather and learn from this unusual time, rather than just sitting and waiting for it to return to “normal.” Change is good (even if not the current reason for it) and always offers opportunities to grow and learn. Thanks for being you.

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