Day 9

A quiet day. Sun. Blue sky. Birdsong.

On the dusty road to the shop there are the car-flattened, leathery remains of toads. They have tried to cross from water where they have grown from eggs, to tadpoles, to toadlets to toads. They spread out from their birth pools and eventually take singular paths.

This road must be close to a suitable, long-established pond. How many made it across? It is said their are fewer flat toads than in other years. Are there more road-aware, agile toads, or fewer available to be flattened?

The shallow roadside banks offer a mix of flowers, planted and wild. The irregularity of wild sown plants appeal. Scattered jewels for all to enjoy.

At lunch I hear that the nation has been exhorted to publicly applaud NHS staff at 20:00hrs this evening. I weep at this news, but am unsure why. No protective kit? No testing?

We text ‘good nights’. My sleep soon follows.

.

CLP 26/03/2020

On the Edge

Out here

The East Anglian landscape is so flat

That the curvature of Earth is apparent

And so here is not so flat at all

A world of its own

Even the sea moves on a different level

From beyond the dykes and shingle banks

Winds from North and East hold sway

Mighty oaks are bent to their will

Brow beaten in perpetual homage to Njord

This vast, sparse expanse

Denuded of shape

A dinner plate piled high

With sky

.

n.b. We are not alone; it just feels like that sometimes.

n.n.b. Njord was the Norse god of wind and sea, (and wealth).

Day 8

Yellow, everywhere. Gorse, daffodils, primroses and by a flint wall, forthsythia, (the Easter Tree).

Along the top road the dark oaks still lack any leaf-cover, so the setting sun bounces off the gorse on the heath through the gnarled woodland. The sky a celestial blue, the display of blooms pure gold.

The pillows of colour belie the vicious nature of the spines that protect the gorse flowers. The petals unfolded from soft green pods, catch attention from a distance; the thorny branches protect these open purses from deer.

On the heath the call of chiffchaffs is added to the mixtape of song.

At the feeder in the garden word is out that stocks have been replenished and inter-species rivalries seem put aside.

A pair of goldfinches gorge themselves, accompanied by two greenfinches who cling onto adjacent perches, The greenfinches are big, muscular creatures by comparison to their multi-coloured neighbours.

Greenfinches are grim-faced with beaks like secateurs. They feed in bursts, making sure to turn and look over their shoulders for threats, or to threaten. They carry a permanent scowl. They wear simple olive green camouflage, the colour of fresh leaves, but even these dour birds sport a dash of yellow on their wings, a corporal’s single stripe.

Today is warmer. Any air out of the lightening wind seems soft on the skin. There is less need to move with such urgency; to hunch; to wrap up. Momentarily an outward, calming breath is possible when outside.

Text messages and emails are exchanged with friends and family as acceptance of abnormality settles on us, but there is a sense of dread stalking the strong, spring shadows.

Our children, (under-equipped, untested), assume their hospital duties with stoicism. They see the consequences of infection; set up ventilators; switch them off.

Our conversation edges along a cliff ledge. Untethered due to distance as we are, I offer my hand. You concentrate determinedly on the positioning of your feet.

By bedtime Venus, low in the west, is dressed in her brilliant white best.

.

CLP 26/03/2020

On the Inside

Thoughts held tight

Multiply in solitude’s echo chamber

These flies hatch from eggs laid deep

Kept cool by winter

Until Spring’s first warmth seeps in

Here they are

Buzzing, banging on glazing

Repeating knock out blows

Frenzied attempts to pass the glass

Crashing time after time

Despite concussive impacts

Leaving sickness, giddiness

Confusion.

.

See the window is open!

Let them fly free

.

n.b. We are not alone.

CLP 25/03/2020

Day 7

At lunch I set out on my bicycle along the coast road. Pushed on by the uncompromising wind past the salt marshes to the mill by the reed beds.

The thatch has been recently harvested, but there is still enough cover for a red kite to spark surprise when lifting off from the hollow stalks. The distinguished underwing markings are easily seen in the March sunlight. The agility of the big raptor is predicated on the pivot of its tail. The bird flexes its tail in the stiff breeze, turns left, then right, then on toward the marshes.

Rising above the windmill’s latticed sails it drifts away. Two other kites join its flight from beyond the bank. The trio wind up higher and higher, further and further distant. Soon they are just specks on the fine lace clouds stretched over the blue sky.

On the road home inland, climbing the long hill, the tarmac is specked with tiny petals. White as ice. Blown into small piles like a light dusting of snow.

A photograph from the hospital. “Hello” its caption. My eldest about to start his first shift back. He’s in protective kit before entering the ICU. No testing of staff – just the mask, visor, gloves, overalls and boots.

You have switched off by the time I am free to speak. Time zones do not respect body-clocks.

CLP 24/03/2020