I remember sitting in a busy coffee shop tucking into a slice of my favourite cheesecake. It was Saturday March 14th 2020, and I had just been to an already socially distanced writers’ group at my local library. As life seemed to be carrying on relatively as normal around me, it felt like a hangman’s supper: if I was going to eat one thing, do one thing, before everything changed, possibly forever, it was this. I felt strangely calm.
However, I don’t think I was prepared initially for the longevity of the pandemic. I remember thinking it was good I’d managed to fit in that fringe trim before the hairdressers closed. What I didn’t know is that I would be growing my fringe out in a couple of months. This was ok, it was time to grow it out. Life became simpler and slower. The myriad of choices for everyday decisions that seemed to constantly bombard me, and which was making me unhappy (albeit unawares) had gone. I didn’t have to decide whether to have a fringe or not; the hairdressers was closed, I can’t cut it in a straight line myself (I tried once, never again!) so there was nothing for it but to grow it out.
In the Spring of 2020 I followed in the footsteps of Dorothy Wordsworth, and started keeping a diary. As the entries started to grow I realised, like Dorothy, how beauty and truth could be found in nature. The reassuring rhythms and patterns of nature such as the changing of the seasons, and each day dawning with its different colours, was extremely comforting. I found when I was more tuned in to nature it showed me the way. I think sometimes you just have to give in to fate, the cosmos, whatever you believe in. The amount of times you hear stories about how things didn’t go to plan but worked out better in the end. Recently a friend told me a story about ordering a new mobile phone, and when the delivery driver arrived he couldn’t give her the new phone because she didn’t have any photographic id; so she went elsewhere for a phone and got a much better deal!
The way my family lives, which is off-grid in a rural setting, teaches us to follow nature’s rhythm. In the early days, I had to be sure to cook the evening meal while there was still some solar power, and when it got dark we’d light candles. Now, on those grey, colourless days in winter when there isn’t much solar power we simply switch off as many lights as we can, and make sure we charge our devices, run water pumps etc. when the power is at its best. While sometimes a lack of power, which we used to take for granted, can be frustrating it can also be strangely liberating; if you have to switch off the light in the kitchen to conserve power then the washing up can wait till morning!
Looking back at a more recent entry in my diary from January 2021 I have written, ‘I feel a kind of deep, ongoing sadness for the world has changed, and I don’t think it will ever be the same again.’ Nearly a year on from sitting in the coffee shop I still feel that eerie calmness, but I think I understand it, as it has taken an unnaturally conceived virus to find the healing power of nature again.