Day 56

In the garden a hole in the ground, sealed to hold enough water to form a small pond, now has two water iris plants and some marsh marigolds in an earthenware flowerpot. Some old bricks set in the water keep the lip of the pot above the surface. Some large stones give some character in and around the pond, that measures about 18 inches in diameter.

It is already home to two common European frogs, one small male and a much larger female. Will any frogspawn be laid, or is the pond too small?

The rats have been less obvious in the garden since all the feeders have been redistributed. A new metal, red poppy has been planted. The idea is to provide a feeding tray for small birds that can be easily seen from the kitchen, without it being accessible to rats. Advice has been taken and petroleum jelly can be used to grease any poles that the rodents might wish to explore.

The ornamental poppy has a substantial lip, so unless the rats bring rope and tackle, it should be a safe spot to leave some nibbles. Within minutes of being stuck in the ground and seed placed in the red “flower” a slender robin arrives and tucks in.

On my cycle ride this morning I saw a pair of black caps, a pied wagtail singing from a telephone cable, blue tits and gold finches. Gold finches are everywhere I have travelled around England these past five years. Either they are thriving, or I have my own personal flock of small, tuneful creatures.

A pair of swifts led the way for a while along the coast road. I nearly lost my balance on the bend while following their swooping and dipping. As “Lockdown” regulations change there is a need to be more cautious on the roads. There is noticeably more traffic this week already.

Over the ancient port up the road, a yellow Coastguard helicopter circles, making an obvious movement, tilting side on toward two people enjoying a rare conversation in the street. This manoeuvre is similar to that made by police helicopters when filming groups of football fans at high category matches. The two people move another foot further apart, uneasy at being observed so obviously.

A Saab cabriolet passes me with its roof down. The number plate ends “BLX” I am mildly amused. Perhaps the driver had paid for his car from a lottery win and had been able to stick his job? Or was his number plate an expression of frustration at the over-whelming scale of the challenges we collectively face at this time?

The health minister advises that “social hugs may be possible in the Autumn.” That is something to look forward to for the more tactile members of England’s population, although for others it will be a time to retreat deeper into isolation, in case it is taken as an instruction.

.

Christopher Perry

12th May, 2020

Day 35

Cycling west along the coast road to the next village this morning took about half the time of any previous trip. The east wind pushed me along as I pedalled furiously to take full advantage.

It was thrilling to travel so fast without wind rushing in my ears, without battling to make progress. It reminded me of running with the wind on a yacht; no wind noise, just the bows cutting through the water. Today all I hear is the spinning of the chain, the tyres on the road and the sound of birds singing.

I return by climbing the rise to the heath at the top of the hill. This route back shields me from the easterly blow because the road is below the brow, is hedged and then runs through oak woodland until the summit of Bard Hill. From there home no pedalling required, just the brakes.

The bluebells are yet to feature under those oaks, but the little nubs of blue are forming in the clumps of shiny, leaves that sprout through the leaf litter. They are readying themselves to break out any day now. They are not alone in that.

Uninterrupted sunshine is forecast to be with us for the next few days. The temperature will be about average for this time of year, but the sunshine offers false hope of greater warmth. I am accepting of weather – it happens; its expectations that need managing.

Wireless connectivity problems shorten our conversation in the morning; weariness and appetite shorten it in the evening. All understandable and reasonable, as long as reserves of reason and understanding remain.

I am disappointed to miss a mid-afternoon call from my son. I was sitting outside having a cup of tea in the cosmetic sunlight.

Elsewhere, mother and baby, (and father) are doing fine.

.

Christopher Perry

21st April, 2020

Day 19

After a night lit by the not yet full moon, a day of bright sunlight and a strong wind. This blow is hot and drying. It is relentless, like a wind that drives the locals crazy after weeks of it in Crete, or parts of southern Spain. It is not a wind to sit in. It makes people restless, as they seek respite from its nagging.

The hedge birds are also unsettled by this draining draught. They hurry about their business then retreat to sheltered boughs, or nests.

By late afternoon the temperature of the air has encouraged queen wasps to come out. Unmistakably large, they move slowly about in these unusually dry, warm hours in search of somewhere to establish a nest ready for the season of ripened fruit. They will settle down for the rest of Spring and early Summer before their small offspring start appearing looking for sweet food in the orchards and around picnic blankets.

Down on the shoreline the effect of the constant, strong blow on the sea surface is remarkable. The wind seems to flatten the natural motion of the waves like a huge hand smoothing a bedsheet into place on a mattress. There are suggestions of dips where in a bed the ticking would be buttoned tight to the padding. Here the constant movement of the sea over these hollows, this repeated smoothing of the briny sheet, becomes hypnotic. On reaching the beach the waves do not break; the following wind simply brushes each flattened roll up the shingle, as if it were a giant broom.

Turnstones seem unperturbed by the action of the sea. They sustain the quick rhythm of their pecking and picking at the stones whilst wandering heads down in a generally easterly direction. These birds are brown jacketed piece-workers with no time to socialise as they comb the tide line for tidbits.

The force and direction of the wind adds an exciting aspect to the flight of gulls. None travel upwind over the sea, they come inland and use the shelter of the banked shingle to make progress into the headwind. Yet, over the water the gulls, either singly, or in small flights, use the power of the breeze to good effect. They half-turn to gain height, then swoop to get full speed without having to flap their wings at all. A gull’s movement with the wind is all about small adjustments to the angle and tension in the wings and tail. Seeing birds fly so fast, so acrobatically without effort, is breath-taking.

The moon rises through the thin mist that blurs the horizon. It is a huge pock-marked, silvery plate, but still not full.

It’s been a long day. We’ve been busy for the sake of filling the hours. The Queen of England broadcasts a brief message that gives some perspective to the health crisis facing humanity. Similar messages have been broadcast by presidents and political leaders around the world in recent weeks. It is one worth hearing again; this time will pass.

We speak. We speak not of that future time, but of today’s accomplishments, what we have seen and learned. This is the time we have now.

CLP 05/04/2020

On Separation

Boxed heart stays constant

Old fears prowl; rattle casket

Rhythm misses beat

.

Contactless eyes dumb

Imagination finds voice

Tremors felt in gut

.

Misunderstandings

Fill up conversation voids

Muddy evidence

.

Dig gently for truth

Listen to answers; reflect

Retire to consider

.

Never forget this:

Distance forms Hall of Mirrors;

Boxed hearts stay constant

.

n.b. We are not alone. Keep the faith.

CLP 30/03/2020

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

Voiceless

Mouth moves aping sound

Single simple words suffice

Nothing more to say

.

n.b. Selective mutism is an intriguing behaviour. Despite having the facility to speak there are some people who simply do not.

“Why not?” is a question that remains in the realm of speculation until the person is able to engage in conversation independently.

At the other end of the scale there are those who choose not to listen. This is a different problem; one that involves choices.

CLP 03/03/2020