Don’t Panic

Don’t Panic

I walked in Bushy Park on Sunday. The first day of March. Sparkling sunshine after February’s dismal daily rain. Felt good. Ideal subject for a blogpost, I thought as I walked. Spring in the park. Fresh daffodils giggling in bright, random clumps. Buds stirring sticky on bare branches. Puddles making mirrors to the sky, glinting silver in sharp sunshine. Mud, lots of it, where normally the ground is firm. Perfect reflections floating on temporary ponds of rainwater gathered at the foot of trees. Blousy pink camellias in the Woodland Garden. Weeping willows in that first flush of new growth that coats their supple branches in powdery yellow-green.

A quintet of deer cluster around what looks like hay – some winter feed perhaps – two pairs of them antler jousting while the fifth grazes quietly and occasionally looks on. Further on, a couple of geese have risen on the wrong side of the nest and are now launched on a vicious squabble, a domestic; the neighbours join in with caws and cackles. Runners pass me. I pass photographers, their long lenses searching for a flawless shot. A dog walker beckons his plump Jack Russell to let go of the half branch he’s just thrown into the deep grass to clear it off the path. Fat Jack thought this must be a great new game with a super-sized stick; he wasn’t going to give up without his best effort. I paused awhile to watch and marvel while he tugged at this huge chunk of wood, a string of dog expletives bursting from his mouth, his tail wagging like a metronome at full speed.

Sunday morning delight. A sense of being free from the dark, damp clasp of winter. 

Three days pass. This is the fourth. Not a word written until now. Back home, the radio, the news flashes on my phone, bulletins about the unseen invader, the virus. Clouds my mood. Feels wrong to write about a spring day with the world in a new and eerie kind of chaos. Though maybe that’s just what’s needed – an escape. I hesitate to write about ‘current affairs’; leave that to the journalists. But sometimes it’s difficult to get past it. Brexit was news on repeat cycle at its most bitter and enraging. This latest cycle feels more intrusive, more personal. You can sense uncertainty. Is that just me? 

Conscious of a vulnerability, I hunker down at home, cancel dates that involve public spaces, crowds, transport systems. I rearrange my physical world, shrink it down to a short-term of greater confinement. Easy for me since most of what I do I can do at home. My mental world needs to adapt too – to less certainty, less spontaneity, less company perhaps. Not so easy. I don’t panic but I see how I might. I ration news, resisting checking too often or responding every time my phone buzzes with another headline, another statistic. But it’s hard not to look, not to seek out some good news. Something to reassure and lighten the mood.

All this touches a nerve.  In my normal reality, most of the time I live in a world where I have sufficient control not to be daunted by each new day. Normally, the chaos is somewhere else, far away. The good fortune of predictability. Lucky me. I know it and I know how I take it for granted. Maybe less so now. 

This morning I went back to the park. Early. Another glorious day. More puddles. More mud. More daffodils.

  • Pauline Lee
    Posted at 09:33h, 07 March Reply

    Lovely post Lizzie……..that poignant juxtaposition of being in the present and slipping sideways into a media induced panic………………it reminds me of a prayer of St Francis de Sales “may I not be prey to anxious thoughts and imaginings.”
    Yet at the moment I too bounce between the two – and am creating a strategy for myself – which means less social contact for the time being and a feeling of going on a retreat for a time. It feels a little like it must have in the war – something bigger than us and out of control and we just have to find our way through it as best we can in an attempt to survive!!

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