Dispatches From Lockdown In An English Spring

We humans are resourceful. We adjust. We have to.

My mother lives in her snug, safe home across the garden from us, but I can’t get close or hug her, because she is self-isolating, sheilded from the outside and coronovirus.

When the weather is nice, as it was last week, we sat in the garden, many feet apart, with a cup of tea.

I got us each some daffodils, a small treat from my supermarket mission. They bring us both joy as we wave to each other from our kitchen windows.

We talk every day in person, by text or What’s App. Yes, my eighty-something Mum uses What’s App and forwards funnies from her emails. Times have changed.

My husband works from home now with his office set-up in the dining room. I have worked from home, writing, for eight years now, but this is a big change for us both.

I am relieved he is here, safe.

Working from home isn’t as easy as it sounds. I used to dream of it when I worked in paid employment, but at home, it’s hard not to procrastinate, endlessly, and avoid the many distractions of family life.

A friend of mine had a small business from home, and gave me some great advice: get up, get dressed and face the day as you would if going out to work. In other words, don’t get up and start typing in your pyjamas or you’re lost. I know this to be true.

The other problem is isolation. The key is finding a good work/play balance, but now we’re all in isolation, there is no balance. Now it’s all about keeping safe.

I had my memoir submissions to agents lined up and then coronovirus hit.  Suddenly, a strong need to check in regularly with my kids, family and friends took over, with not much time for much else. Video calls saved the day.

Ploughing through crowded streets, offices and public transport took on new danger. We started self-distancing before the lockdown.

Then came the stockpiling and suddenly going to a supermarket felt like the start of a zombie apocolypse.

A shock to the system, all of it, none of us prepared for such a scale as this. How did we go from normal life to the sight of shelves stripped bare with no bread, milk and toilet paper, never mind trying to get in a good day’s writing?

Submit? Write? Seized by lockdown brain fog, how can anyone do anything?

It helps now the stockpiling has eased with stringent measures in place. Maybe we can breathe a tiny bit easier, though great danger still exists and far from over.

But my need to write has usurped my brain fog, so excuse my ramblings if you will. I can’t let my publishing dreams slip away. I need to break through the fear and the helplessness and the missing of my loved ones and the terrible toll on too many who have lost loved ones and just be here…now…sharing something…

We are allowed outside exercise once a day in our neighbourhoods. This does not mean packing a picnic and driving twenty miles to a beauty spot, no matter how beautiful the weather.

I am blessed to live in a village which enables this, as these photos attest, but a walk along this road is not without hazard…

There’s a small farm with some fat lambs…

A few cows…

And a pony…

And a library from a kindly neighbour: ‘All Books Free’, invites the sign…

Cars travel these same roads. Other walkers too, with the same idea. Car and people-d0dging takes some planning. Some drivers force me into the hedgerows with not so much as an acknowledgment as they zoom past.

Others slow down and give me space and a friendly wave. Most of us greet one another on our daily walks, but I am paranoid about them getting too close, as some do.

People-dodging at the supermarket is a sport without a winner’s cup. My heart sank at the sight of some still huddling together in the aisles. It took me two hours just to get round the store safely, the ever-present worry of virus spread on my mind.  I don’t mean to sound paranoid, but it is exhausting.

Too many of us can’t get an online, delivery or click-and-collect service for love nor money.

Life has changed in ways we could not have imagined in mere weeks. By the hour and the day.

A young checkout man told me about a customer who, so enraged that he could buy ONLY three packs of fresh meat, threw a packet of chicken at him across the checkout.

In stark contrast, a few days ago, a note came threw our letter box. A neighbourhood volunteer group is set up in case anyone in the village needs help with shopping, posting letters or just chatting on the phone for those living alone.

Last night at 8pm, as last Thursday, we came together in the UK to clap from our front doors in gratitude for all our NHS, care and key workers, including supermarket staff and delivery drivers.

Thank you all with hearts of gratitude.

I thought it would be nice to share some photos from my early spring garden to end on a colourful and cheery note…

And Lord knows, it helps to keep a sense of humour. Thank goodness for memes!

We just need to get through this.

After all…

Stay home. Save a life. Keep well.

Love Sherri x

 

 

 

 

About Sherri Matthews

While bringing her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress: A True Story of Broken Dreams, Being Brave and Beginning Again' to publication, Sherri's articles, short memoir, personal essays, poetry and flash fiction are published in national magazines, anthologies and online. She invites her readers to share the view at her Summerhouse blog and is a regular contributer and columnist at 'Carrot Ranch', an online literary community. In another life, Sherri lived in California for twenty years, but today, she lives in England writing stories from the past, making sense of today and giving hope for tomorrow.
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77 Responses to Dispatches From Lockdown In An English Spring

  1. purpleslob says:

    Yes, who could have ever imagined this?? We are all 4 of us, the females, staying home. DH is the only one who goes out. I’m glad you and Mum can at least wave at each other across the g
    arden! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary Smith says:

    DH has just gone out to do the shopping, reckoning at this time of night the supermarket will be quiet and there will still be produce available. I think he’s gone a bit into hunter/gatherer mode 🙂 We noticed on our walk along a country lane today that everyone apart from one driver gave us a wide berth and a big wave. Stay safe, keep well and enjoy the flowers. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mary, it helps having the beauty of spring all around, doesn’t it? Hope DH’s supermarket run was successful. Ha…I can relate to that hunter/gatherer mode, it gets you like that these days! Sounds like you have considerate people in your neighbourhood, that’s good. Today on my walk, everyone was nice and waved, so no crashing into the hedgerow. And I saw sweet robin, singing his little heart out in a tree as I walked by. You stay safe and well too, Mary and a big hug back 🙂 ❤ xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Heyjude says:

    Glad to hear you and the family are all well. I know what you mean about walking in the lanes – we can get mown down by horse riders too – usually they move over but sometimes they insist on walking side by side and getting a little too close for comfort. I go to the supermarket on my own now (they only allow one person in anyway) and my local one is very quiet – I am avoiding the larger supermarkets – so keeping my distance is easy. And I quite agree, keeping a SOH even in these dark times is vital – love the ‘Here’s Johnny’ 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha…glad you enjoyed ‘Here’s Johnny’. I love that man, he fits ‘crazy’ better than anyone I know…well…maybe not! 😀 It gets a bit tight doesn’t it, horse riders I have not come across as yet. Glad you’ve found a quiet local shop. We’ve just started using our local, small shop more now too, much better, everyone behaving, quiter, well stocked. Perhaps this has been the answer all along. I don’t want to go near another large supermarket for a long, long time. Take care, my friend…keep safe and keep well and keep smiling! ❤ xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pat says:

    Oh my, Sherri. I share your sentiments, for sure sure. We’re in lock down too here in Colorado; though, not all states have followed suit. Makes it difficult to make progress on this virus across the country when not everyone is on the same page. This slow pace is taking it’s toll on getting a handle on this.

    But, life for hubby and me is similar to yours in hunkering down and doing what we can to keep safe and keep in touch with the multimedia available. We’re thankful and doing well. Our oldest daughter is a registered nurse and is somewhat on the front lines. Each day is different for her as she is on call every day and not sure which clinic she will be going to. For her and all the others who give and put themselves out there for all of us, I pray for their safety and protection in these trying times.

    I feel there’s more going on in this than we can see and time for me to trust in my higher power, hold on for the ride, love whenever and wherever I can and be thankful. God bless, my friend, be safe and well and your loved ones too. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Pat, my heart goes out to and prayers for your daughter and her ongoing protection and safety. Those on the frontline are in the thick of it and we can’t even imagine what they are facing. As I type this, our Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on oxygen in hospital, having still not been able to knock this thing on the head. It’s so indescriminate, of all ages world wide. So glad you and your hubby are safe at home…keep well, my friend, and God bless you too, love and hugs ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pat says:

        Thank you, Sherri. She’s doing the best she can but it’s exhausting. I pray for her too and all the others trying to do their best under these dire circumstances. Especially, in times like these I just really have to lean on my higher power. Love and hugs – be well and safe, my friend. 💖

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I can imagine. God bless her and God bless you. I would ask if you would pray for our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who has been in intensive care since Sunday night. This is a massive blow for him, his family and our nation. After years of upheaval and instability with Brexit, then two general elections and now coronovirus, this is terrible and worrying news. Politics aside, he was doing a great job leading us through these perilous times. Thank you, my friend. You be well and safe too…love and hugs always ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          • Pat says:

            Thank you Sherri. I will definitely pray. This is something that is unknown not knowing when or where it will strike next. Our leaders, no matter how difficult and conflicting they are need our spiritual attention. We are all in this together and it doesn’t play favorites. We need to pray for all of each other — for humanity. Send out as much love as we can and get passed ourselves. I don’t know if you saw it or not, but I wrote a post last week on my take and personal reflections on this. You wrote what you were experiencing and helped to inspire me to write too. It’s called “When We Come to It”. Hope you find love and hope in it, my friend. Didn’t mean to go on so much on this. Wanting to help spread a little love. Hugs from across the pond! ❤

            Liked by 1 person

            • Always love hearing from you, dear Pat, and thank you for mentioning your post, I’m honoured that I could inspire you to write down your reflections and look forward to reading it. We certainly are all in this together and keeping safe and protected is paramount, and for some time to come, I believe. This virus is indescriminate and virulent and for many, deadly. So keeping in touch here and supporting one another is very important while we also keep safe and well in our homes. You always spread love across the pond, my dear Pat! I wish you a very Happy Easter amidst all of this, remembering all our many blessings and the great hope of the cross. Hugs to you right back, and I’ll visit you next week after the Easter weekend (I promised hubby I would keep off the laptop for a few days as he’s off now until Tuesday, but just wanted to catch up with you here before signing off) and look forward to catching up then! God bless you, Pat… ❤ 🙂 xoxox

              Liked by 1 person

              • Pat says:

                Thank you for your kind words, Sherri. Nice to connect over the internet while being shut in. Hope you enjoyed Easter holiday and much love from across the pond. Love and hugs. ❤

                Like

  5. Denise says:

    Your garden is looking lovely. I had a big tidy in mine – working from home means that I can do my gardening in the middle of the day, when it is warm. In the past it was too cold by the time I got home and when the warmer weather began, the ground had gone all hard.
    Your experiences of lockdown are very familiar – how is it that some people can be so lovely and others become so selfish? Supermarket shopping is a perfect example. And how people treat outdoor spaces, as if they are the only ones that matter. My friend works for the National Trust and when people were told they couldn’t congregate inside any more, they all came in hordes to her NT place and started picking the flowers etc.
    Glad your mum is keeping in touch, and keep going with the writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Denise, glad to hear you’re able to make the most of this time working from home to get in your garden at a good time. I hope you and your LD’s are keeping safe and well. Sadly, I am not surprised to hear your friend’s experience of the NT. I can only imagine what some parks and beaches were like this past weekend and now we’re in for a heatwave all through Easter apparantely. Oh boy. Thanks so much for your encouragement, feeling more than despondent with the rejections coming in, but gotta keep going, right? Same with you…take care, my friend ❤

      Like

  6. Sue says:

    Lovely garden images, Sherri! Stay safe, we’ll, and positive. I’m starting week 4 of isolation….video calls keep me sane!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Diane Box says:

    Loved the line people dodging as a sport……
    Enjoyed your post beginning to end as once again you made me feel as though I were there. That is a gift! The photos were lovely but didn’t like reading about you dodging some of those drivers! Thank you for a great read!😊💕

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charli Mills says:

    Ever the memoirist, recording life as you experience it. You have a way of drawing us in and I find it comforting to know that you are writing your way through the uncertainty of the times. What a caring thing, to keep close to your mom at a distance so she can be safe. I love the pictures — the flowers and the pony, especially! Thanks for the laugh, too! Stay safe and take care!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha…I knew you would love the pony! I thought of you, of course 🙂 There is a little farm along the lane where I walk, last spring we spied a family of piglets, so cute! Thank you, Charli, as always for your amazing support for my writing. We write and we ride, right, no matter what 🙂 And we don’t forget to laugh while doing so. You too, my friend, stay safe and keep well! ❤

      Like

  9. That meme is priceless, Sherri! Stay safe and write, write, write. Thank you for sharing those lovely photos, and I am so glad you can still see your mum and that she uses apps … that’s wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Imelda says:

    Hi, Sherri. Stay safe, continue writing, do not lose heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I lost my writing mojo, too, but I’m glad that on occasions it reappears and I get myself writing, Sherri. I’m publishing a post this week on what I did to find it.

    Great advice about not staying in your nightwear when working at home. I always get dressed before 8am, usually straight after getting out of the shower. However, I’ve always been a ‘morning’ person, and I typically find the slump happens at about 3pm. That’s when I go into relax mode.

    Keeping away from other humans while out walking is an art in itself. I tell myself that anybody I see out while walking is a zombie and that I have to get myself away from them. It’s like a scene from one of my short stories. It seems to do the trick, although I have had the odd, strange look from some.

    What beautiful spring flowers. I’m glad you’re all able to enjoy them and that your mum seems to be coping with self-isolation.

    Keep staying safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Hugh, thank you for your lovely comment and I look forward to reading how you found your writing mojo again. It’s not an easy thing to overcome, and hardly surprising at such times. Ha…yes, I know about that slump. Hubby is a morning person (I am not!) but since I get up earlier than I normally would because of that and am used to it now, I do find I run out of steam earlier than I used to! Haha…yes, it’s a strange new world isn’t it? I bet you’ve had a lot of great story ideas through this. I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead…so you know where my mind goes with it all. Glad you enjoyed the pics, Hugh and you too, keep safe and keep well and keep writing! 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  12. dgkaye says:

    Hi Sher. I so know all of which you speak. We’re all living the same new temporary normal before the new normal. Don’t beat yourself up, majority of my writing friends are in the same funk. We all need time to process this new way of living; our minds are in different directions. Just keep enjoying your video time with your family and stay safe, and don’t run out of toilet paper! LOL.. Hugs my friend, we’ll all get through this one day at a time. Just take each day at a time, take notes of thoughts that come to mind that you may want to write about later. I keep a journal of those kinds of ideas. Keep busy. ❤ ❤ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Lovely to see you photos and hear how you are coping Sherri. I’ll add your post to my sharing links on my next post as I’m doing a series of Coronavirus posts. Take care, Marje x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Marje, so glad you enjoyed the photos, thank you 🙂 Oh that is so kind of you, thank you so much for sharing my post. I look forward to checking out your links. Hope you’re doing oky, my friend. Keep safe and keep well ❤ xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for the update Sherri and I get the feeling that there is an invisible serial killer in the supermarket aisles. We are much braver I think when we can see the dangers. Events like this bring out the best and the worst in people which is usually fueled by fear. I am glad you are all safe and that at least the weather is enabling tea in the garden and walks in such lovely countryside. Take care and stay safe. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It’s a strange world now Sherri, but I’m glad you have your mother close. Sometimes it seems there are more people about than there ever were before and trying to dodge them is a full time occupation! Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Andrea, how are you? I hope you are keeping safe and well, my friend. Ha…yes, people-dodging has become our new national sport it seems! Who would have thought all this…crazy, scary times. Take care, and thank you for your visit, always lovely to hear from you, Andrea ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m just hoping this will make us reflect more on what’s important in life, Sherri. All of my immediate family are 160 miles away from me at the moment, but we’re talking regularly on the phone. Walking has become a daily treat, and the shopping experience is actually better now than it’s ever been. Had a chat with the checkout operator yesterday and even she thought it was more enjoyable – that people are being so much more appreciative than before.
    Take care, and enjoy the writing as you immerse yourself into it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope so too, Graeme. Yes, it’s so important to keep in touch with our loved ones. It’s good to know that things are settling down there, and same here for the most part. Except for the trail of traffic heading to the West Country this weekend…don’t get me started… arrgh. But I agree, I do think most people are finding their way and more grateful for the basics. Thank you, Graeme, and you too…taking time away online for the weekend to recharge. Happy Easter to you and yours…take good care…

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Norah says:

    The path for your daily walk is gorgeous, Sherri. How I’d love to share it with you. And the colour in your gardens is uplifting. How wonderful that you have your mum close by and can still have tea and a chat together, apart. Yes, family are high on our minds at the moment, aren’t they? We need to look after ourselves so we can still be here to look after them for years to come. I’m pleased to hear that you are self-protecting and staying safe. Keep up the good work. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Norah, how I wish you could share it with me too! What a wonderful walk that would be 🙂 Yes…it is a big responsibility isn’t it, making sure we’re safe and protected to keep our loved ones safe. With the weather turning lovely here for Easter, the problem exists with people thinking it’s safe now to go out but the danger is greater than ever. I am so grateful for our space in the garden and that Mum is here with us. Thank you, dear Norah…and you too, keep safe and well and protected, you and your loved ones, and I wish you a very Happy Easter with love and hugs…and of course, SMAG 🙂 ❤ 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Ste J says:

    Greta photos, now is the time to appreicate the things often forgetten.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For sure…glad you enjoyed the pics. The daffs are going over now, since the hot Easter weather, but a few tulips are coming up. I miss going to the garden centres though…but very grateful for the plants coming back to life. I hope you and your family had a lovely Easter and are all keeping safe and well, my friend 🙂

      Like

  19. Mike M says:

    Thank you for your care and common sense in these unusual times. This time shall pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi there Sherri – remember me? It’s so nice to ‘see’ you and read your heartfelt words during these crazy yet enlightening times we find ourselves in. Such beautiful flowers! I hope you are well my friend. I’m so glad you’re in the process of submitting your memoir! Sending love, peace and hugs. 💚🤗

    Like

  21. Prior... says:

    Hello Sherri –
    I am here many weeks after you made this post – stallion the month of April – but whew – it has been a long month.
    Much of what you wrote about here is still relevant – except there is now talk of the reopening plans – at least here in the states – not sure if you have that there yet. Slow and steady – and some say too soon – but I guess we shall see.
    the good news is that your mother did not get the virus. My mother has also been spared – she is up in Canada as I type – and I am super grateful this was not her time to depart from this earth from a virus.
    __
    hope your month winds down well and be back later to check in again
    love ya so much mon amie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Yvonee, and how wonderful for your message. It has indeed been a long month and so much we could say… We are still in lockdown here, but awaiting an announcement from our prime minister later this week about plans for easing back, though it will be very gradual and my mother will have to remain shielded until mid June as part of the original 12 week period. I’m so glad your mother is keeping safe and well in Canada. And it’s great to hear from you and I will be in touch very soon…here’s to what May brings. Much love to you, mon amie, keep safe and keep well ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Prior... says:

        much love to you – I think of you often – and recently cleared a bookshelf and have two Sopranos books to still send ya.
        My goal is to do that this summer
        xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

        • As I do you, mon amie. And oh the Sopranos…we ended up watching it twice through and caught so many more clever nuances. So much has happened since then…but here we are. Keep safe Y….love ya much ❤ xoxo

          Liked by 1 person

  22. Prior... says:

    PS – your flower photos are excellent – well done with the clarity and vibrant color

    Liked by 1 person

  23. It’s been ten weeks after we self-isolate. Some people are getting impatient and relaxed in following the rules. I’m glad the supermarkets have signs for mandatory mask for entering the stores.

    Liked by 1 person

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