This quote, from Audrey Hepburn in the 1980’s, could not be more apposite, as I write this column with the world in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic.
Previously never a keen gardener, preferring to sit in it rather than cultivate it, the garden has now become my bolt hole. As my appetite for creative writing has dwindled, and my concentration span for reading waned, I have welcomed the opportunity to have long periods of reflection, weeding the flower beds.
I count my blessings when I see a magnolia in full bloom or hear the full-throated song of a wren.The sky above me is a boundless blue, with the absence of vapour trails, but I think of my friends stranded in New Zealand and worry how they are going to get home. The noise from the nearby motorway has deadened to a low hum, but I think of the delivery drivers providing essential services, the healthcare workers on their way to long shifts at the local hospital, the supermarket attendants on whom we all depend, and I feel grateful.
I also look forward to a time when we can resume our usual activities, but will things ever be the same?
I have learnt new social media skills and familiarised myself with Zoom, Whats App and Facetime , so I can see my family and friends, as well as hear their voices.I have enjoyed long conversations with them, now that we have time. Every Thursday at 8pm my community opens its windows and front doors in a gesture of solidarity to applaud the National Health Service, and I say hello to my neighbours over the wall or fence.
I have restricted my viewing of the news to once or twice daily and, instead, have taken to Twitter or Facebook to seek out new recipes, using ingredients from my garden- the latest being hummus with wild garlic. I have started baking again. I have cleared out my greenhouse and prepared new beds so I can start growing vegetables.
Three weeks ago I never anticipated any of these activities.
Back in the garden a robin keeps me under its watchful eye, the clucking of a pheasant alerts me to its presence before it emerges from the wood, and I disturb a toad as I wrestle with handfuls of Sticky Willow. The world beyond my garden has changed immeasurably, but in the apple blossom above my head it is business as usual for the bees.
Audrey Hepburn was right. The garden offers hope.
Here are some pictures to brighten your day.