Stay at Home!
On my island, we have yet to go to lockdown, even though we were the first state within Australia to close our borders. We still have freedoms that I’m sure my friends in the UK and USA crave and our Covid-19 figures are light by comparison. But every day, more become ill and the rules strengthen. We adjust as best we can.
Over summer, I was caught in a beach rip and despite that I’m a good swimmer and know all the rules, when I felt the strength and speed of it, panic poured over me like the waves that were part of said rip. Simply, I thought I might drown.
I draw a comparison with the way the world is being dragged along in the Covid-19 rip tide. We all know we should adjust, keep calm and go with the flow, but it’s hard, isn’t it? The constant state of flux, the bad news.
In the beginning, as I mentioned in my last post, I was unable to write. I was incredibly unsettled, unable to do much more than walk, work in the garden and read far too many online news stories. By the second week in to the new world order, I was getting tetchy – in need of order to balance the chaos.
I headed for the garden. It’s an obvious choice for me – my thought patterns become wisps of cloud drifting past. I haven’t any interest in latching onto them as I work. The wonderful thing about gardens is the way the cycles roll round, no matter what. Droughts, bushfires, Covid-19 – it makes no difference. The autumn crocus grow, the grape-hyacinths begin to sprout leaves, the hellebores show me what they will offer at the end of winter.
Another mode of ordering my world is to continue my two walks a day with my dog. On the beach, by the sides of riverbanks, anywhere that I can practice physical distancing, preferably be alone. Nothing changes on my beaches beyond the way the tide runs or what might be washed up on the shore. A surety of nature.
We need to eat as well, and whilst the garden still offers up delicious veg and herbs, I’ll keep cooking the harvest. Cooking requires its own kind of mindfulness and is another gear ratcheting society’s distress into an order of some kind.
But the dark thoughts, the chaotic nervousness of a world we don’t recognise, takes hold at night, so I stitch. I become lost in silk and colour, of trying to stitch the best I can. I know of thousands across the globe, men and women alike who do exactly the same thing. Thread the needle with silks, wools and metallic threads and create untold beauty on cloth of all kinds.
And then there’s books.
Currently I’m reading Phillip Pullman’s The Book of Dust. It’s perfection. He has such a refined control of language, such a simply contrived world and such drama, such solid characters, such dark shadows.
On audio, I’m listening to Matthew Harffy’s Wolf of Wessex, eminently read by Barnaby Edwards. It’s a move sideways from The Bernicia Chronicles – more emotional, an instant rapport created with the two lead characters, old Dunston and young Aeodwen. I’m only six chapters into it but I can foresee another brilliant piece of writing.
And what of my own writing? Book Twelve on my list – the seventh historical fiction.
Currently called Reliquary, (Book One of The Penitents) heaven knows whether that will be its final title. Suffice to say, I’m back!!! It’s taken a couple of weeks to free myself from the shackles of pandemic news and retreat to 12th century France where Soeur Cécile’s world has changed faster than she can breathe.
You bet! Cécile would find great sympathy for us all, I think, and light a candle for us. It would only be tallow and would smell to high heaven, she comes from a financially-troubled priory after all, but it’s a gesture that would touch our hearts.
Last night, our premier called for us to ‘stay at home’, which leaves the onus of lockdown on us. But many here in the Glamorgan-Spring Bay Municipality are not taking this seriously.Because businesses have closed down and school is optional (Optional? Really? Either open or shut! Stop vacillating, Premier!), many have converged on the coast with the idea that this is a chance of a long Easter holiday! People are walking in groups, children are playing in playgrounds that haven’t been roped off and locked by the council.
Thus chaos rears its head and laughs in our faces.
I foresee another morning walking and gardening and an afternoon in 12th century France.