Buttercups, jackdaws and Zoom

I’ve had some positive reactions to these recent posts on my lockdown rambles and experiences, so will keep them coming. As Jacqui said in a comment on the previous post, nature is a balm to the soul at the best of times – even more so now.

I get a huge amount of pleasure when out on my daily walks with Mrs TD in the countryside near our house to hear the birdsong, which echoes in the valleys and under the canopy of the trees as if we were in an avian cathedral. Today, after spring showers, the path through the trees was redolent of damp earth and young leaves. Cow parsley has started to flower, and copses have a low mist of bluebells.

ButtercupsOn both sides of the path – which is the route of an old mineral railway or tram route to the old docks on the river by the city centre, now long gone – the meadows were vivid green with grass, and shot through with golden yellow – a host of buttercups. My picture can’t do more than hint at the colour. Last time we walked this path, a buzzard stood sentry on a post in this field.

Last night we had the first in what will be a regular Saturday-night family quiz on Zoom. Our daughter was question-master, resplendent in a pink boa and paper bow tie made by her daughter. She looked like Judge Rinder channelling Ru Paul.

Her questions were stretching. Who knew that vanilla came from orchid seedpods? I didn’t.

I found some old seed packets (herbs and salad leaves) in the cellar (sell-by date 2011) and sowed them in a trough. After a week I’d given up on them, but after the recent rain they’ve started sprouting. I’m thrilled. The ones in pots by the kitchen window are still refusing to budge, though – but they were seeds from dried chillis from a local Cornish chilli farm, so I suppose it was a long shot.

I had my weekly Zoom exercise personal training session yesterday in the dining room, with the door open for coolness. A raucous horde of jackdaws gathered on my neighbour’s roof to watch and cackle derisively at my efforts. Mockingbirds. Surely not a sin to kill them.

I regularly stop in our local convenience store for a paper, eggs, or today, beer. The young woman serving there told me that the old man she often talks to outside is a daily visitor. He’s afraid to go inside, fearing infection (odd that he stands so close to her and other people outside), so she brings him out what he needs and chats. He’s obviously lonely; this is his only daily contact with living people.

Some days ago she told me he came inside for once and said he’d got some photos to show her: himself as a young man, in blue suede shoes. “I’m sorry,” she told him, “it’s busy at the moment. Pop outside and I’ll come and look at them when these customers have gone.”

She continued serving – and forgot about him for an hour. “I felt awful,” she told me. “A customer came in and told me there was an old chap outside who looked a bit lost. I went out to him and told him I was so sorry to have kept him waiting. He said not to worry, and showed me his pictures. He was lovely.”

Some people are being selfish and callous during this lockdown, but most, I like to think, are like this kind young woman, taking time out from her busy job to make a lonely old man’s day.