The coming of spring on Deeside is a slow, ambling process where there is a pattern of a few days of biting winds and low temperatures followed by a single glorious day of warmth and blue skies.
Such was the case yesterday (Wednesday) when we had a full day of acceptable warmth and sunshine and the sudden balminess of the weather was such that we were able to enjoy a late afternoon pre-prandial lockdown drink outside, with Archie somnolent at our feet. There he is resting, oblivious to it all with his head protected from the crunchiness of the gravel by his outside bed – actually an old duvet permeated with a very satisfactory (from a dog perspective) aroma of canine mustiness. Being Archie, from time to time he adds an additional whiff of mustiness to this duvet, and the surrounding air.
Master and Mistress read their books, there is a clink of glasses, Archie sighs occasionally in windy contentment, the weather is balmy and so the third day of the fourth week of lockdown winds to a close. As I have said before, unlike many, we are fortunate to have a garden in which to break the indoor monotony of lockdown, even if the temperatures are on the low side.
There is much talk on the media of maintaining one’s mental health in these strange times. I am not sure if it is creeping old age or just general grumpiness, but I wonder about all the stories of very energetic people doing very energetic things during this period of stasis. People manicuring their gardens, redecorating the house, learning a new language, reading Shakespeare to their children – all of these things are fine but I certainly don’t want my mental health damaged by being made to feel guilty if I am not filling every moment of every day with some vigorous creative activity. Wasn’t over-filling our time one of the problems with the old life?
What I have really enjoyed in the last few weeks have been the leisurely phone calls. It has been great to have so many phone calls from and to people that we have not seen for a long time, in some cases not for years. And not just to have the call, but to have time to talk at length, to regurgitate old jokes and in the case of video calls to get a hint of the caller’s wider current life (and tastes) from the backdrop to the call.
During this period of down time, I’ll be doing my bit for others and doing my bit for my own physical and mental wellbeing. All of us who are not on the front line bravely caring for those suffering from this dreadful virus are managing our isolation in the best ways that we can. If you are embarking on dozens of new projects and you want to tell the world about them on Facebook and Twitter, that’s great. Just don’t expect your way of dealing with this coronavirus stuff to be the same as mine, or the same as your family and friends. We all started this period from a different perspective and in wildly different situations. We will all deal with it in our own different ways, some of us successfully, others less so. None of us should feel guilty about that. Those differences are part of what makes us human.
If there is another warm spring day soon, I might even look out another smelly old duvet and join Archie on the gravel in a symphony of flatulent mindfulness, but I won’t be putting that on Facebook.