A quote from Lucy Jones, journalist who writes about culture, science and nature, in a piece for the Guardian newspaper on 20th March 2020. 20.03.20 The Guardian – Let Nature be our Refuge
4 minute read
‘A week is a long time in Politics’, Harold Wilson observed serving as our Labour prime minister at a time, around the period of my birth, of huge industrial and social change. And now, as I enter the second half of my first centenary(!), it seems that a day is a long time… When Lucy Jones wrote her piece, all National Trust gardens were planning to open free to all, in recognition of the importance of the outdoors, nature, and the opportunity, particularly in times of stress and uncertainty, for people to slow down and really appreciate the everyday things.
It’s those small, natural things that still inspire and that we grasp onto for hope. Not our technology, our fancy cars, holidays, or new outfits…
A simple rainbow has become the symbol for our nation’s hope – and faith.
Now, a month further into Covid-19 ‘Lockdown’, and in line with most businesses and leisure attractions and even many parks across the country, National Trust have locked their gates. Until further notice.
Never has the country – the World – been through such unforeseen times. Never has a government had to envisage, carve out and steer a path through such unchartered territory. Balance and fight for the nation’s physical, economic, financial and mental health. Appearing daily at briefings to remind us all of the country’s simple strap line for the times – Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save lives. All previous priorities suddenly dropped. The focus of our leaders and ourselves switched, at breakneck speed. Desperately trying to get ahead of the virus – unforeseen enemy of such ferocious power and mystifying means that man, clever, First World as we are – masters of all we touch, creators of any whim we desire, can still not understand, nor defeat. So we are left hiding away. Battening down the hatches. Closing our front doors. Closing our accounts with the local health club, cancelling holidays, weddings, nights out at the pub…
NOT getting all dressed up
NO where to go,
NO one to see. ..
And so we reflect
As a nation, each one of us re evaluates life
Questions and asks ourselves – ask others – what is important.
And as the materialistic, human world shuts down, the Natural World unfolds. Like a beautiful, simple blossom in spring – quietly and reassuringly continuing the circle of life and in so doing bringing beauty and hope to the world for those who pause, and have the opportunity and eyes to notice.
Feelings are for those in flats, or shut in some other way – through confinement, physical disability without usual support, or in mentally destructive relationships or circumstances, without their usual windows to the world.
As we started this period, the daffodils were trumpeting in glorious swathes across the garden. Heralding Spring as nature wakes for another year – hoards of yellow and white heads, proudly and happily smiling in warm gaggles as we humans locked down for our open ended period of ‘UK Shut’… ‘Social Isolation’. Isolation has now morphed, verbally, to ‘distancing’ – aware that casually chosen language can have severe unintended consequences… but the effects remain deep and probably life changing for each of us.
How apt, 118 years after being written, is Wordsworth’s poem about that feeling of painful, rooted isolation – and the joy that nature can bring; both at the time of experiencing it, and later.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not be but gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.