April 24th, 2020
It’s been a while since I posted a Journal entry. Many apologies.
What a strange time this is. I’m sitting at the kitchen table and the view from the open window is of a perfect scene. The sky is a cloudless blue, there are no cars or people to be seen and the only noise I can hear is that of the conversations the sheep are having with their lambs and the incredible amount of birdsong.
Richard sits in bed with a cup of tea every morning, he has his book on birds and a pair of binoculars to hand. Directly in front of the bedroom window is a group of alders. In one tree alone, there is a pair of beautiful mistle thrushes, plump and in perfect plumage, starlings too with their irridescent feathers. Treecreepers and in a neighbouring hawthorn, so many blue tits and chaffinches. They are all madly filling their beaks with worms and grubs for their babies and dashing to and from their nests. It’s a wonderful thing to see.
Knipe Scar, an interesting local limestone escarpment, is ablaze with gorse. To the front of the house, Haweswater Beck slides calmly past and kingcups are in profusion on the bank. The flag irises will be out soon. I love them.
The garden is waking up big time with the warmth of the sun on the soil. Clematis ‘Frances Rivis’ pictured above, is looking lovely and the bees are busy in the flowers. Our asparagus bed, now in its seventh year, is shooting up lots and lots of spears. We have been sitting on our hands, waiting for there to be enough for us to have a proper scoff. We have counted twenty-two today so I think this evening I will head down there with a little knife and harvest them. More will continue to appear. They seem to have arrived early this year which is a bonus, we must stop harvesting them in mid-June, to allow them to turn to ferns and for the goodness of the plants to feed the crowns underground. Asparagus are magical things. You can’t harvest them for three years when you first create a bed, you must only watch, but such anticipation!
I’m not mentioning the Coronavirus much here, am I? But it’s here, it’s in everyone’s minds, everyone’s lives and it looks like things will never really be the same again. We are like so many families, unable to see our children except on phone or laptop screens, our oldies are in a perilous situation in care homes and the terminally ill are not getting the treatments and care they need. Everyone is desperately worried about their businesses and the world their children will inhabit in the coming months and years, they certainly will not have the opportunities my generation had at their ages.
Weirdly, Richard’s and my life haven’t changed very much day to day. I still walk the pugs across the fields every morning. We spend a long time in the garden as we always do at this time of year. With most of the garden centres shut, I’m growing plants for friends’ and neighbours’ gardens. I’m still pretty busy with the preserves, people order online and local people still buy at the little stall at our gate, although all the markets are cancelled. Perhaps marmalade, jam and pickle cheers people up in such testing times. I know food has become the centre of many people’s days, much making and baking going on. I know we seem to start our days here with ‘Well, what shall we have for supper today?’!
Old friends ring up for long chats on the phone. Somehow this is bringing us all a bit closer although we are apart. It’s comforting.
The wonderful Chopping Block in Penrith delivers meat, deli items and wine to us every Saturday. Everything comes beautifully wrapped in sustainable waxed brown paper and there is always a cheery handwritten note in the bag. There was a gift of ‘Hot Cross Bun’ flavour chocolate at Easter! It didn’t last the day. Chris and his team are working all hours to look after their customers and to try to navigate these stormy waters.
The locals look after each other too. Doing shopping, picking up prescriptions, taking people to doctor’s appointments, walking dogs, that kind of thing.
There is an atmosphere of care and kindness. People have had to slow down, they can smell the roses when they come out.
No-one really knows how this is going to unfold but for now, keep safe, well and as sane as you can. As many people of my parents’ generation, who went through the war, said ‘Even this must pass’.