There is STUFF everywhere in our house. I have no desire for minimalism but now, four weeks in (is it four? it's becoming hard to keep track) it's starting to CLOSE IN on me. The stuff on the dining room table, the piles of books on the coffee table in both downstairs rooms, clothes in various stages of the laundry process in various parts of the house. I daren't go in my son's bedroom. About the only room we seem to have any control over is the kitchen, and even that's not entirely tamed.
My houseplants are suddenly healthier, shinier of leaf and growing babies all over the place (actually that's just the spiders...). Less neglected than they usually are during normal times they're getting watered and fed, spoken to and tended as never before. While I regret my former carelessness of them I try not to take on yet another layer of melancholy, I'll enjoy them instead.
Oh, the books. I am a book lover, a book addict, it's likely, I used to joke - though it seems in poor taste now - I own books to last me beyond life expectancy. I "never have time to read as much as I'd like" yet here I was with time, not reading. This hit me like a slap in the face...the way my brain shut down, made me shy away from the bookshelf, made me pick up one volume after the other and put them back down. While others read Camus and Defoe in a slightly ironic manner I found I had too many other things to fill my head with, to process, than the words in a book. My remedy was to find the book I could read in short bursts, and do just that (The Wood, by John Lewis-Stemple, if you’re wondering). Like nibbling on a cream cracker after a bout of illness before being able to cope with a proper meal, I eventually started the 500 pager I'd had my eye on in the months before the crisis began.
The car is covered in dust. It hasn't been driven since the Friday before lockdown began, when I went to the supermarket for a self-isolating friend. The camping chair I took to queue in is still in the passenger footwell, the nitrile gloves I wore abandoned on the seat. I look at it and wonder how weird it'll feel to drive again when this is over, and whether it's worth going out and washing it (I wouldn't, normally)
The Map I Bought Just Before All This Kicked Off
A bright orange Ordnance Survey Explorer bought to fill a gap because I had no map of where we live. I found it in a pile of stuff (see above) the other day. The places within the bounds of the map have become distant. I can trace the footpaths often travelled, and the new ones I’d hoped to explore this spring, during the Easter holidays. The map cover bears a photograph of a local landmark, reminding me of the currently unattainable heights of the local hill (elevation: approx. 120metres). This modest bump in the landscape, a favourite walking spot of mine, for now may as well be as far away as the Cairngorms. The map reminds me of how we took our space for granted, just hopped on the bike or in the car for a day out. I remind myself those days will come again. They must.
by Fi Cooper