Coronavirus week 9, 17th to 23rd May
Week 9? Well it could be week 29. This is just what life is like now, especially here in Wales where the lockdown restrictions remain in place. It seems that new infections and deaths from the virus are slowing but at different speeds in different places around the country. London, which was the first place to have a surge in infections, has now seen a marked fall. Here in North Wales the friend who is a front line NHS worker in our local hospital thinks that we might not yet have reached the peak. In England the relaxation of lockdown has seen people travelling to exercise and meeting up in small numbers in outside spaces. When I talk to my friend from Valencia she too reports the relaxation of lockdown in Spain. In some ways it is almost easier when the rules remain tight. There are no decisions to be made or risks to weigh up. We are still here, still staying home.
Perhaps it is this sense of almost being left behind that has got to me a bit this week. I don't mean by this that I have been miserable or out of sorts but I have had a week where in the first few days I achieved very little and couldn't seem to settle to doing anything which satisfied me. There is a kind of engagement with activity which puts you "in the zone" where you are completely focussed on what you are doing. In normal times choir is a great example of this. You cannot sing in a choir and think about anything else at all with any part of your brain. You are just there, doing it. It was a life saver for me when my father was so ill and the running anxiety about him as he struggled with MND was a constant. Two hours of choir was like having two hours off. I always came home soothed and smoothed and flattened out. Running or walking and yoga can give me this too and this week I probably haven't helped myself by not going for a run or doing much physical exercise of any kind. The weather has been first very hot and then very windy and the thought of slogging up the hill in the sun and against the wind has not appealed. I found myself thinking that what I wanted to do was to run at Lady Bagot's Drive, one of the places where we did a lot of our training for Couch to 5K. It is cool under the trees and the path runs by a river, the water moving in the dappled shade. To get there is a fifteen or twenty minute drive which we are still not supposed to do but once I had the idea in my head it made it even harder to propel myself out of the door here. On Thursday I was beating myself up about my lethargy. "Listen to your body," Ian said in a way that was more serious than jokey, so I wandered around the garden and realised that I was wasting a very beautiful day and not allowing myself to see it. Perhaps I just needed to stop. So I sat down with my book in the sunshine and just tried to be there.
Later that same day I decided that what I needed was a project. It had to be a practical, physical project which would use my hands and let me see something concrete emerging. I thought I would try to find something a bit challenging to do with crochet and something which would use some of the wool I have in my stash.
Eventually I found this pattern on Ravelry by Torun Johansson which uses a technique I have not tried before to create a diamond pattern which when linked up into blocks reveals a lattice of diamonds and circles overlaid on the background squares. It is called Northern Diamond and I really like it. Once you have done a few squares and got the hang of it, working it contains a really good balance of quite simple (the black) where you can crochet and let the mind wander as long as you keep a bit of an eye on the number of stitches, and more complicated (the brown) where you need to concentrate to ensure the square does not lose its shape. On a facetime call with older daughter I saw that her ten year old was sitting beside her wrapped in a throw and deep in a book. To begin with I had simply wanted to find out if I could do the pattern and hadn't had a project in mind that I would use it for but I really liked the idea of a blanket specially for him, to be a reading blanket on winter evenings or cool afternoons before the fire had been lit. I consulted him. Yes he liked it. I haven't decided on exactly how big it will be yet. I think the smallest it could be would use 48 of the small squares but more likely it will need 64. So far I have done 13 so we may be here for a while. But it has made my fur lie the right way round again, smoothed it out, given me that almost meditative movement of the hands and making it for him gives me the sense of connecting with the people I love.
And this afternoon I am going to walk up to the top of the hill. I may run down. I may not. We will see how it feels. But I think I need to move. I think I need to balance the meditative sitting with the crochet on my knee with the rhythm of my legs and the wind in my face.
Have you found things that work for you when this strange restricted life makes you feel a bit inside out?