Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer

Wrens and Ivy

wren on a pot of ivy

For a couple of days there was a pair of wrens here, one spending a long time cooried in, and the other removing a faecal sac, which seemed to indicate that serious nesting was going on. However, the pot is only six feet from the back door, so it looks as if there were second thoughts. The wrens are still about, I can hear them singing against one ones in next door’s garden – just not where I can see them. Ah, well!

Spring goes on, dry for the most part, but mild and sunny. I saw the first housemartin on Tuesday night, I’ve been mulching the flower bed and starting seeds, and yesterday while I picked dandelion heads and violet leaves to make infused oils, I heard a curlew, so spring is finally complete. The dandelions will make a rub for aching muscles, and the violet leaves will make a skin balm, which I think we’ll all need, after all the extra hand-washing.

All the Easter services are on-line this year, which turns out to be more reflective and less weird than it sounds, and I’ve spent some time reflecting on what I’m learning during the lockdown. In the fortunate situation where I don’t have to worry about my income or doing childcare – and the even more fortunate position that the two people in my life with serious health concerns are actually more well now than they have been in years, I’m under less stress than I have been for a long time. And I realise how much this time of quiet is helping me to dig into what I want to write.

But also, it has helped me to learn a lot from what’s going on. Several things stand out.

  • There is a massive change in the environment, reductions in pollution and carbon emissions. I hesitate to say that the earth ‘is healing’. It is a pause on the route to climate change chaos, a chance to break step, and it may give us a breathing space. And it is incontrovertible evidence of the impact of human activity. We could do with taking this time to think how far we can make sure we don’t just go back to doing what we used to do, to ‘get back to normal’.
  • Existing issues of inequality are being aggravated, and some of them are more clearly visible in this new situation. We need to make sure they get addressed when the lockdown ends, otherwise the aftermath will be worse than this.
  • there are still people who think that being rich, powerful, clever, courageous or in some way important gives you an edge in this situation. They think you can somehow finesse the virus with better planning, and their outrage when somehow it doesn’t work out is the oddest thing I’ve seen so far.
  • The Westminster government does not have a clue about the people it is trying to govern. They are talking to us like children, giving ‘instructions’ and raging like incompetent schoolteachers when people don’t immediately jump to it. Worst of all, they don’t understand the ordinary implications for ordinary people of the lockdown. The ‘help’ that is offered is all about keeping the finacial systems going – businesses surviving, landlords protected, banks put in charge of access to money. It isn’t at all about seeing that people can get food, keep a roof over their heads. It’s as if they look at it only through an accounts sheet, without knowing what money is for. And as if they can’t trust ordinary people to handle money directly.
  • there are a lot of frayed nerves out there. We are going to need to be very patient with people being anxious, irritable, or emotional, especially on line. From day to day, I’m very impressed with how well people behave, how kind and courteous they are, how well they keep to the social distancing rules, but you can see people are under strain. It’s been lovely to see people having emotional episodes on social media, and how everyone responds with kindness and sympathy. We can’t over-estimate how helpful this is.

For all that this time of relative solitude is becoming a very productive and healing time for me, it is enriched by knowing how many good friends I have, both on-line and in the real world. I am so grateful to you all, and looking forward to the joy of meeting up as soon as it can happen. Happy Easter, everyone!

pussy willow stems agains the sky






2 responses to “Wrens and Ivy”

  1. James McGonigal Avatar
    James McGonigal

    There is much truth in what you describe, Elizabeth — and coincidence of living in the world, even down to the wrens. Like you, we have the benefits of pension and garden space and writing or research projects. But deepening sympathies too for those whose lives and commitments and lack of space must make this a period of stress and fear. Our children and grandchildren living abroad gives something of that worry at a distance. Something to contemplate there too, about distance and closeness, isolation and contact.

    1. Elizabeth Avatar

      Indeed. So many people have had to deal with delays and disappointments, bereavement and loneliness, and fear. It has been good to find ways to comfort each other. Thank you for your kind comments!

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