Day 11 – After Noon

Briefly outside, but I’m driven back by the falling temperature. The grey sky gave way to blue eventually, but there was no warmth in the sunbeams.

There seems little enthusiasm today in the birds’ calls. The greenfinches are the only ones heard throughout the day, but even they lack energy.

A picture is sent by my son of his two children leaning over the top rail of a fence by a bluebell wood stream. They missed the kingfisher’s fly by, but watching a gurgling stream is magic enough.

During the afternoon and evening messages flow gently across the English Channel. It’s been an enjoyable day.

Quiet descends. Cold and dark thicken beyond the curtains.

CLP 28/03/2020

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.

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CLP 26/03/2020

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.

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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

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n.b. We are not alone.

CLP 25/03/2020

Day 6

Sat on the front doorstep, mug of tea to hand, the cool breeze is worth enduring for the joy of sun on my face. I listen to the birds, a buzzard’s cry easily distinguished above them all.

No traffic, no aircraft. All that can be heard are these birds in song.

Later a dog down the street barks from a backyard for a reason only he knows. It draws responses from another, who according to its owner, is deaf.

At the simple metal feeder blue tits, great tits and coal tits flit to and fro in an endless chain. Some are tidier than others with their feeding. The great tits are able to neatly carry off one nut at a time, while the blue tits peck furiously, spraying flakes in their haste to get to the kernels they seek.

A lone starling clatters onto the wire feeding cage, clears the stage. Flapping its wings to maintain temporary balance, it displays the multicoloured, luminous beauty of its feathers.

Collared doves waddle around in the grass below, picking at the fallen crumbs. A chaffinch joins their scavenging; then a robin.

On the borders of the garden blue-bell plants approach maturity, but for now only a few stalks carry buds with hints of colour.

The hazel is sprouting soft, ribbed leaves, but there is more cane wood than foliage. At this time the trees offer incomplete impressions of the full-bodied canopies they will carry.

Today’s highlight is the fleeting visit of a Red Admiral that touches down on the grass, opens its wings for a second, kisses them together, then flickers up again. It quickly disappears into the dazzling mid-morning light.

We speak as you walk up through the vines above the lake. You join the regulated queue at the supermarket. I return to my work at the makeshift desk, by the window. Your voice as delightful to my ears as the butterfly to my eyes.

My eldest son texts me. He is returning to the hospital. Duty calls him.

CLP 23/03/2020