2 weeks ago

A Reader Writes: Ruminations On The Coronavirus Journey

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A Golden Retriever, gardening and home hair care …

It is difficult now to even remember our initial feelings as the magnitude of this pandemic unfolded before our eyes. A confusing haze of compulsive news-watching, fear for our loved ones, particularly our parents, loading the trolley in the supermarket, hair panic and box sets.

As the news became almost unbearable to watch, I busied myself in the kitchen, dabbling with notions of becoming a Domestic Goddess, who would devise the definitive banana bread recipe (FYI, brazil nuts rather than walnuts and half brown sugar, half caster sugar). I endeavoured to cook something from the vast array of – if I am honest largely redundant – cookery books that line the shelves of my kitchen. As I tired of cooking, I moved on to clearouts. My bathroom cupboards proved most rewarding, sorting through the mountain of samples accumulated over the years – gels, serums and bizarre concoctions I was never destined to use. I appear to have been collecting insect repellent in vast quantities for an imminent move to the Amazon. Initial hair panic resolved itself by a mere click of a button on the internet to order a home dye kit, which produced surprisingly impressive results.

After I had decluttered my house, and the tension of a family occupying the same space 24/7 became palpable, I retreated to the garden for some “alone time”. When I say alone, I mean shadowed by my Golden Retriever, who pre, during and post coronavirus is and will always be in quiet agreement with me. In truth my dog is finding this whole experience wholly satisfactory, with frequent walks and someone on hand for tummy rubs at all times.

Anyway, back to the garden. I can’t express how grateful I am to have a garden during this period. A safe space that that is utterly unaffected by this virus, where I have watched spring unfold in real time with a sense of amazement at nature. As I relish the nurturing embrace of the garden, getting rid of plants I never liked and ear-marking the odd tree for felling, whose only contribution to the garden has been to inhibit the growth of the beauty that lies beneath it, I start to enter a new phase of self-reflection.

As coronavirus has pressed a huge pause button on our lives, is this an opportunity to reassess, to question the preoccupations that have maybe thwarted our happiness, to cherish a new found simpler life? My sister, who has spent many years flying around the world for work has enjoyed the halt to travel and is looking forward to significantly less travel in the future. She has decided to get the dog she has always longed for, now possible because she’s travelling less. Lest I paint an overly idyllic picture, I do recognise the pressures of those juggling working from home whilst placating squabbling children or coaxing slumbering adolescents out of bed, but do we really want to re-join the tailbacks of rush hour traffic?

As we emerge from this period what will our lives look like? Certainly we will cherish our friends and gatherings we took for granted. We will have the opportunity to properly mourn and celebrate those who have sadly been taken from us by this terrible virus, in the manner that is so deeply rooted in Irish culture. Will the experience be personally transformative? Will we become a more compassionate, self-reliant world, that embraces our collective responsibility for one another and our planet? Let’s hope so.

In this new online series, A Reader Writes, readers share their stories of coping with lockdown: exploring the emotions and feelings it is uncovering, discovering new hobbies and pastimes, navigating your new normal or just general observations surrounding this somewhat slower time. To share your story email [email protected] with ‘A Reader Writes’ in the subject line. We will publish a selection of new stories online each week.

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