These words from Robert Browning’s 19th century poem, brings to the mind’s eye the countryside as spring emerges after the gloom of the long wet winter.
Those of us living and working in the heart of the Sussex countryside, have been fortunate to witness this scene developing around us.
The woods filled with the scent and colour of wild garlic and bluebells, and now the emerging soft green canopy as the trees gently burst into leaf. It is a privilege to live in rural England in our isolation and with space around us.
Data shows that the majority of those who have been diagnosed with the corona virus, and most of those sadly struck down by this rampant disease, live in and around the densely populated metropolises of London, Manchester, Birmingham, York and Glasgow and other large towns and cities.
For many of us, particularly those working the land, life has changed little as we go about our daily tasks. Other than perhaps the dramatic increase in numbers of people walking across the fields.
Some walk in family groups with their children and dogs. Others flash by in their multi-coloured lycra, with bottled water, and headsets camped to their ears. Many appear oblivious to their surroundings so deeply are they engrossed in whatever it is they are listening to!
Although in lockdown or isolation, I doubt there are many families who have not made new friends during these strange times. Some by reaching out to previously unknown neighbours, where they have found individuals close by who are isolated and lonely, and eager to talk or at least see a friendly face.
A friend living in St Albans has kept busy crocheting face mask adaptors to make them more comfortable for nurses to wear in her local hospital. Andrea dropped notes in letter boxes along her street asking for spare buttons. Amongst others she received a reply from a lady aged 96 who had buttons, but more importantly it was clear she very lonely in her isolation. A relationship, which I am sure will last beyond Covid 19 has resulted. I suspect similar scenarios are being repeated daily across the nation.
Different kinds of relationships have developed from this pandemic as we have invited complete strangers into our homes. In many cases they have become familiar and increasingly an integral part of our daily routine.
In our case it is the extremely enthusiastic and chatty American, Leslie Sansone. We found Jo Wicks far too intense and quite frankly hard work! Leslie puts us through our paces with her Walk routine and before we know what has happened we have added 2 miles, walking in the kitchen, to those we have already logged during the day. Ote Hall is a serious Boot Camp!
Will we keep up these new friendships or abandon our team of fitness coaches who have kept us company for weeks? Shall we forsake the charming Leslie when life returns to ‘normal’?
As I write this Sunday evening I am looking forward to the week ahead. We have been promised the arrival of two phenomena - the Jet Stream moving south bringing rain, and Boris returning to No 10. Both bode well for the nation, bringing hope, vigour and stability. The nation needs the PM’s reliable and solid leadership, and the countryside desperately needs the rain. Between the two we shall hopefully soon see emerging green shoots of recovery.