Today on my morning dog walk across the Cow Common it was a good time to reflect in the empty space before me in a physical and mental sense.
Physically the Common is deserted. The sun is hot and the cracking of the early frost under my feet delights me. The swans have now come to live closer to the village on the lower stream and they mingle with the herons, bustling in the bedding reeds. In the distance I can see one walker who joins the stage. He has small dogs who are unaware of social distancing and they prance and jump, grubby paws reaching up onto trousers begging for biscuits. The walking path is worn from boots and strange pieces of branches, random in structure and weather-twisted waiting to be thrown.
They will journey across this space to a fireplace or just disintegrate, chewed by eager dogs who will bring them like spoils to their masters.
I worked in the Middle East and we experienced lock downs for the month of Ramadan and I am getting the same feeling of guilt when I exercise in our sacred place.
We all then agreed to the privations, not drinking, going out or making fun of any type until at least the evening sun dipped below the skyline and then then a battery of World War II guns would salute the start of feasting.
Our start of the evening is the daily briefing from the Government and this brings back memories of the dire presentations by Ian Macdonald during the Falklands War.
Then we were counted out and in. One wonders if today it should be the other way round, in and then out. For now the Common is ours, a free space that becomes a church, a meditation room or just a space to breath. We are truly blessed to have this just for us.
For now so many plans have been cancelled, disrupted and these changes will have a profound mental cost that we must try and mitigate. Some plans were secret only to be sprung on a birthday gathering, a surprise guest, an opportune to make an unsolicited call on a neighbour or presented to partners.
This is especially hard for me as I had just taken a small cottage in Somerset delightfully named the Reading Room overlooking the Blackdown Hills. Here I would concentrate on settling my life story to print, but more importantly deciding which path to take as a man wounded. I had made my mind up that another way was to have been the one but in this empty space stretching before me I will just have to bide my time and perhaps a choice will become clear.
I will get there perhaps a little later than expected and I will immediately get down to the surprise I have.
There are so many unexpected consequences in this time of lock down and the effects will be felt. But nature will take advantage of the clean air and safe roads, the community will thrive and it will end well in our hearts.
But for some the space will become a black hole vacuum which can consume enterprise, thought and love. Let’s hope not and stay positive.