Almanac: Sunshine, doorstep parcels and fresh air

In the national lock down, we are all permitted to leave the house for exercise and fresh air once a day, as long as we keep our distance from those that are not from our household. Today is the perfect spring day; warm like summer, with a gentle breeze.

I’m walking with my ten year old autistic son. I am usually protective of him because of traffic, though today I hold his reign tightly in my hand in case he gets the sudden urge to reach out to someone he knows.

“Park?” He asks. I say no, no park today, the park is shut, we are going to the fields. “Park.” He repeats with finality, as if the matter is now settled.

At the hedgerow he pauses and breathes in deeply. It is quiet, except for the buzzing of bees and the starlings in the trees.

From the fields we can see over to the neighbouring village to the west and the city to the south. As we get to the extent of our walk today my son pulls towards the distant woodland and I gently steer him away.

I return my son safely home to the rest of our family and collect my little daughter. It is too complicated, with the risk and social restrictions, for us all to go into the village at once, so we are taking our children out in shifts.

Usually, my daughter picks up every fallen flower and runs her fingers along fences or railings, so today she is safely on my back in her carrier.

We see an elderly gentleman we know from our volunteer work tending his front garden. As we approach along the footpath he quickly rises and stands ten foot back, smiling and waving to my daughter. We exchange a few cheery words. The nearby main road is empty and we cross without our usual wait.

We are on our way to photograph our library’s Community Garden. It is particularly enjoyed by those who do not have gardens of their own and we want to make sure they can still enjoy watching it bloom online.

My 19 month old daughter is enjoying herself immensely, waving at everyone and pointing out dogs. “A dog. An-other dog. Also dog. More dog.”

It reminds me that when my 10 year old son was younger, he used to call dogs random names because he was copying, although slightly misunderstanding, how humans greeted each other. “Hello Phillip!” he would say to a passing german shepherd. It really confused the owners.

We find the Community Garden full of life. We encourage anyone from the village to add plants to the little plot and it is a wonderful riot of colour.

We head back through the church yard and as we pass under the trees dozens of startled birds take flight. They have already gotten used to having the place to themselves.

It is very odd to see straight across to the local pub. I cannot usually get a clear view for the constant traffic.

There is a large queue of elderly shoppers outside the butcher’s, so we take the longer route back through quiet residential streets, to avoid stepping out onto the road to keep a safe distance.

I notice that quite a few houses belonging to older villagers have sacks of potatoes, milk bottles or loaves of bread outside on the doorstep. Neighbours have been leaving food parcels for those in need. Such kindness is heartening.

Keep safe and well everyone. With heartfelt thanks to all those who are working to keep us safe, especially those on the frontline in the NHS and hospitals around the world.

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