November 2020
“Pandemic Perspectives”
Everything has changed and nothing has changed. Up and breakfast, walk the dog, chores and gardening, work and rest, cook dinner, watch TV. And yet. All is quiet, empty, shut down. Lockdown. Clear skies over Edinburgh and deserted roads in Juniper Green bring a somewhat post-apocalyptic atmosphere to our normally bustling spaces. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, schools, pubs and businesses are closed, playgrounds taped shut. The village a sad place, peaceful but anxious. Tsunami coming. Will the food shops remain open? Well stocked? Will the hospitals cope? Rainbows of hope appear in the windows. On Thursday evenings we stand in the street with our neighbours, clapping our support for the NHS and key workers, the moon peeping through the fattening buds on the horse chestnut tree, silhouetting them against a steely twilight sky. It gives me a sense of solidarity and community. I wonder if we will still be doing this when the autumn leaves are falling. A WhatsApp group is set up for our street to share information and to offer or request help. We get to know neighbours we haven’t met before as well as keeping in touch with those we can no longer see. Technology allows us to meet up virtually with family and friends in video calls and Zoom quizzes. People talk of a wartime spirit and it’s true there is a camaraderie but we’re not getting bombed or sending our youth off to fight so there’s a lot to be thankful for. I’m so grateful for our lovely house and garden, our village and countryside, our city, our world. Now that everyone is in lockdown and exercise is the only escape, the world is turned upside down. Lanark Road, empty of traffic, can be a walkway to zigzag across to distance from oncoming pedestrians on the now busy pavements. The Water of Leith walkway is thronged with joggers, cyclists, families out walking. So, to avoid the possibility of a flattened canine companion, we dog owners venture into the further reaches of our beautiful countryside. Across the river, up past the equestrian centre, push on up the hill, past the quarry, pausing for breath to take in the breathtaking views to Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Berwick Law, the Forth Bridges and beyond to the Ochils and the Trossachs. Onwards and upwards and the Pentlands are our oyster, set with the pearls of our sparkling reservoirs: Clubbiedean and Torduff, Harlaw and Threipmuir offer endless routes and ever-changing vistas. Troubles melt away as step follows step in a world that is fresher, cleaner, sharper than before. Other walks emerge as favourite places to avoid the newly crowded countryside. We relish the chance to explore the empty Baberton Golf Course with its sweeping views of the city and the hills, and to discover the grandeur of Heriot Watt University’s wooded campus, beautiful and deserted. Covid Chronicles from Juniper Green : Jan brings us right up to date Keeping occupied keeps me sane, so I take on a succession of tasks - decorating, planting veg, making facemasks, shopping/ delivering food for neighbours - yet all at a deliberately steady pace. Taking time to appreciate what I’ve got. A steak pie and a scone from Molly’s Deli has become a regular weekend treat, compensation for café deprivation! As spring turns to summer, the opening leaves and flowers are echoed in our re-opening world, petal by unfurling petal. We begin to breathe a little easier, though any feelings of relaxation are soon given a reality check with reports that things might not get back to normal before the end of the year, or possibly even longer. Talk of a second wave is pushed to the background as we relish a tase of normality. Such a joy to see the children playing with their friends again, climbing in Bloomiehall Park playground again, off to school again. Such a relief to see our sons again, meet a friend, get a haircut! Now too soon the days are shortening. The horse chestnut leaves put on their fiery farewell and the conkers, coronavirus-like, are carried off by scampering squirrels to be hidden somewhere and grow anew. The virus has re-grouped and is on the rise again with gathering speed. Less of a shock this time but somehow more difficult to bear, in part because winter is approaching and Christmas may not be what we would like it to be. And partly because it’s clear now that this isn’t going to be over anytime soon. The window rainbows have faded, but hope is still there. We have the ingenuity to get through difficult times if we all pull together, support each other, keep that neighbourliness going. Another tsunami approaching? Maybe even a more permanent sea level change? Deep breath, head down and swim, swim, swim! Jan
Covid Chronicles from Juniper Green: Jan’s view of lockdown.
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