Ann is interested in nature's interaction with humans, its influence on our thinking and how walking paths can take us to unexpected places.
Keeping the Balance
Keeping a balance in all sorts of situations is how we live our lives. Normally this is looking at the choices and being reasonable. We choose for ourselves and we react with others in an acceptable way.
For ourselves, a choice might be easy. However, if we then need to consider others in the mix, it can widen the choices or it can limit them, depending on the situation.
Out in a Crowd
Changes in Social Behaviour
Life before Covid-19 included going about our daily routines; washing, gardening, shopping, exercising, walking the dog, travelling, socialising, working and going to school.
Now? We disinfect or wash everything if there has been contact from outside. We wash our hands more frequently; no bad thing and new to some! At least it cheers us up to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice each time. My birthday has just passed, so I got one day right!
Food shopping for the self-isolated is done on line. Deliveries are booked. We stay up until midnight and grab any slot available. That’s fine for us but there are many who cannot physically do that through illness, incapacity, having nobody to help them or even having no computer! Do they starve?
For others, shopping means social distancing, queueing outside shops with markers in place and being allowed in one at a time. There is a safe system, trollies are disinfected by shop staff and so it continues. Most obey the rules.
Walking the Dog
We have permission to take daily exercise, walk the dog, go in the garden. Initially that was all but the boundaries are easing. Social distancing is still a must at all times when away from home.
Train and Boats and Planes
Travel and Social Pursuits
Travelling belongs to those who are key workers and others who are unable to work from home. We cannot travel to holiday homes, we cannot visit other members of our families, we cannot go anywhere by plane. Other transport is almost impossible as social distancing becomes a huge problem.
Socialising is an obvious no-no. That leads to the suffering of businesses such as pubs, restaurants, cafés and hotels, many of which will go under. Again, this is easing but much of the damage has been done. Not only people’s businesses and therefore finances suffer but the consequences can affect mental health.
Two Extremes: Self-isolating and Key Workers
Those of us who are totally self-isolating due to age and/or being vulnerable, are asked (not quite ordered!) to stay at home, not even see family. I understand all that and therefore get annoyed at those who think it doesn’t apply to them. Consideration for others doesn’t seem to cross their minds. They want to push down the boundaries.
Those still working do so from home if possible and if not, stick to all the other rules as best they can. Those most affected by that, of course, are the NHS* staff, the carers and the key workers; public transport staff, delivery staff, some teachers and various others. They are heroes for doing their jobs even though they are going to be exposed to more people and therefore more risk.
These two categories are the extremes. There are no worries for the first group, apart from everything that goes with being in that group in the first place. There is a gamut of worries for the second group.
Rainbows in Windows
Help and Community
We have spent Thursday evenings at 8 o’clock, standing on our doorsteps and clapping, banging drums and cymbals, for the NHS and those working in Care Homes. We have put rainbows, mostly made by the children, in our windows, as a reminder of hope at the end of all this, to raise a smile for those who walk past or see them from their homes. We have put candles in the window for the same reason. It all increases the community spirit, gives us that warm feeling that we are working together against this silent, invisible enemy, that we are closer than before, looking out for each other. I don’t think that feeling will go away when this blows over. I pray we will all cherish and maintain that feeling of togetherness and keep it going, looking out for those who find life more difficult.
The Mantra: Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives
That will be imprinted on my brain for ever. In fact, lots of aspects of these last couple of months will never be forgotten. I don’t think life is ever going to be the same again but not necessarily for the worst.
Then came the change of message from Boris Johnson, but only for England (is this really the United Kingdom?!): Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives.
It is now that many begin to feel uncertain, more at risk, as we are told to use caution, wear masks, keep to social distancing. There are so many variations and interpretations within this statement that it’s mind-boggling. Some are panicking when they feel there is no blanket control but we have to be careful to recognise the balance between some control and the danger of over-control. In other words, we have to decide for ourselves what is fitting, what is common sense and what is individually reasonable.
Mask - Gloves - Stay Apart!
I could go out in a space suit and I wouldn’t have any worries. That peace of mind comes at a price though doesn’t it? Not literally the cost but the inability to walk properly, pick something up, talk to anyone… Sound silly? Yes, but where do we stop with the barriers? Where do we draw the line between personal safety and overreaction?
Life is not without risks. Do we stop walking down the street in case someone is running amok with a gun? Do we stop driving or travelling by plane in case there is a terrible accident? Do we stop swimming in case we drown? No but we do take precautions, we do watch what is happening around us, we do think about possible dangers and take precautionary action. There is a balance. Nature is a balance. Life is a balance.
I believe we should do what we feel is sensible and best for us, as individuals. We must consider our safety and that of others. Common sense is the key. Do we all have common sense? It seems not when we see footage of people in the parks and towns, thinking that they’re now free to do as they wish.
So we have to trust; trust in others’ sense of responsibility and thoughtfulness. That’s all we can do, if we are to avoid becoming paranoid about going anywhere near others, if we are to be able to push the boundaries of re-connecting with our fellow beings.
My personal plan of action is to finish my self-isolation in mid-June as planned, still go for the occasional short walk keeping to the rules of social distancing and to wear a mask should the need arise, should someone else come too close. My daughter has made us masks but so far they have not been necessary.
I have had moments of panic, for example when deliveries first arrived I was bothered about some of it harbouring the virus, despite cleaning it while wearing protective gloves and washing my hands immediately afterwards. Now I am more measured but I still have to remind myself that the risk for me is low as long as I stick to my present routines. That reminder is necessary or else I shall be a nervous wreck! I can understand how some have become so through overwhelming worry.
Apart from saving lives what have all these preventative restrictions achieved?
- Less traffic, so…
- we save on petrol, so…
- less noise and pollution, so…
- more birdsong, more wildlife activity, so…
- nature benefits and so do we.
- Use of our braincells:
though we might watch more TV, there is more thought as to what we can do with all this extra time;
we are becoming more innovative as access to outside facilities is restricted and
becoming more conscious of those around us who need help,
therefore doing more of the helping, so…
making us all feel better, the helped and the helpers.
I don't normally sew, nor do I cook cakes or biscuits. Here are a few things I've done over the past two months (except the chicken coop - that's my partner's handiwork!).
Take time to...
I just hope we keep some of this awareness of responsibility and innovation. It does us good. We shouldn’t be relying on everyone else, we should be looking to ourselves to do what we can for ourselves. It makes us feel better, feel proud of ourselves, when we take responsibility.
The natural world around us has benefited; the birds are singing more loudly, the trees at the edge of the road are returning to green instead of emission-burnt, the sky is blue instead of scratched with vapour-trails. We are breathing cleaner air and so feeling (let alone being) more healthy.
I want it to stay this way. Of course, that’s not realistic because people have to make a living. But we can try to strike the balance better, we can try to curb our ways a little more, behave more responsibly towards our environment and towards each other.
Notes and Updates
*NHS = National Health Service (in Britain)
I am of course referring to our rules here in England and Britain (they differ within Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), with regard to the restrictions and how they have shifted; I realise they vary around the world.
On Thursday 5th November (Bonfire Night!), after having a system whereby local regions were subject to some lockdown rules, the whole of England is now in lockdown, similar to the initial started in March but not so strict, until the 2nd of December. Other parts of the UK are doing their own thing (not really 'United' is it?).
As an informal child-carer I am allowed to go to my daughter's, as part of their bubble, to help when the parents are at work. Otherwise, I am not allowed to meet anyone in my or their garden, though I can go walking outside with one other (no, I don't get that either!).
It remains to be seen whether or not this month's lockdown will make a difference; we might remain within these rules for longer. If people respect the social-distancing then it might just work. 'If'; such a little word but it means such a lot.
How will you act when we return to 'normal' life, such as it might be?
Do you think your interaction with others will change?
© 2020 Ann Carr