Monday 30 March 2020

Gratitude and Grazes

I have just come indoors after an hour's dandelion yanking. It's a sunny day but not warm until after a half an hour or so of digging up nasty fat white roots. I shared the sun with Lightning, the cat next door, a few worms, and a few song birds but not with the plaintive voice that instructed me from above that I shouldn't be outside.

A wiggly worm for the worm fan.
I looked up, and there was a golden-haired, bare-legged moppet of about three or so standing in the doorway of the flat next door and up. (To put you in the picture, our building is two stories high, with four flats below and four flats above. The downstairs flats have front gardens as well as back gardens, and the upstairs flats have just back gardens. Charity sector workers both, my husband and I live in an upstairs flat.) I couldn't make out exactly what she was saying, but it seemed to be that I ought to be inside. She lost interest when a cat shot past her into the flat, so now I am not sure if she was addressing the cat or me. She was certainly looking at me, though.

The Moppet's flat is probably owned by the Council, for it is outwardly in a state of disrepair and the back garden is a riot of long grass, garden tables, plastic toys, etc. I wonder if the Moppet has been told that she cannot go outside because of the Vile Germ and if her mother is taking the word "outside" very literally. I certainly haven't seen any children playing in that garden for weeks--or months, come to think of it.

I myself may start taking "Don't leave your home" more literally myself, for I am growing increasingly uncomfortable around people. Yesterday B.A. and I went for a walk along the river and the crowds--oh yes, very polite crowds, crowds keeping one or two metres apart, but still CROWDS-unnerved me. It was as if a third of the neighbourhood had decided to go for their government-mandated one walk at the same time and place.

But my nerves were already in pieces, for our walk along the river began on the rougher side this time, the side on which youths loiter, breaking bottles, drinking Iron Bru, and shooting up heroin, for all I know. The path is not very well paved, and I tripped and fell and began to roll down the hill towards the river, stopping in a large patch of nettles, not far from an abandoned bottle.

My left hand began to bleed, and I was absolutely horror-stricken, thinking of how many germs there could be on that path or what I might have cut my hand on. So I rushed off home at once to wash my hands throughly before re-embarking on our supposed-to-be soothing walk along one side of the river and back. I inspected the patch of nettles for syringes or broken glass: no syringes, no broken glass.

The nicer side of the river.
I enjoyed the solitary part of our walk, but it was all too short, for we soon found ourselves behind a politely spaced out throng and in front of a politely spaced out throng, and I kept thinking that one cough or sneeze would leave tiny droplets in the air for a few hours for us to walk into and breathe. This led to pondering the many accounts of people's lonely deaths by coronavirus I have read, and which I discourage you from reading. At any rate, I was near despair.

Upon returning home, I pulled off my tights and discovered that my left leg was scratched to blazes. I ran a hot bath with lavender bubble bath I bought in some other era and sat in it to calm down, clean my wounds, and imagine my death. This last task interfered with the first, so instead I listed things I was grateful for: having a bathtub, having lavender bubble bath, owning a flat in the first place. I thought about the poor of India losing their restaurant jobs, for example, and having no homes to go to.

(Pardon me---I was just on today's government-mandated walk. We went somewhere less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.)

Gratitude plus remembering that others have it much worse helped restored my equanimity, as did the  baking of a pan of raspberry Bakewell squares. (I love frangipani above all other sweets except dates stuffed with walnuts.) I think the recipe is too sugary, but B.A. loves the result, so that's satisfactory. Gardening and long walks will have to continue, even if just to stop getting fatter from my nerve-soothing baking.

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