Special surprises in solitary


This time, last year, I was searching everywhere in the shops. It was February 2020, and you could wander about on the High Street and stop and talk or give friends a hug. But I was beginning to get concerned. The news was not good, and I thought that I needed a face mask, just in case. But of course, there were none to be found. In the end, I resorted to a do-it-yourself shop, which was selling masks for protection when you are sanding wood.

Now, of course, you can buy masks almost anywhere, they come with the supermarket shopping. How our lives and habits have changed. Unbeknown to us our brains will have changed too. I have not been out, apart for medical reasons, for eleven months and I have learnt to enjoy the moment and to have small things to look forward to every day.

One thing that I have been looking forward to is the arrival of our seed order. A big box was left at our gate yesterday. It is full of potatoes and packets with bright pictures of flowers and vegetables. The potatoes are already under our bed in trays and we are waiting for them to chit before Mr T plants them.

Soon, we will have trays of tomato seedlings on the window ledges along with aubergines and peppers. Last year, we had to buy plants online because we were taken by surprise at the rapid spread of COVID. We could not go to our favourite nursery and buy plants. This year we are more prepared and will be growing our own from seed. Being isolated and alone here on our little smallholding has become a way of life.

Another thing that I have been looking forward to is seeing my bulbs flower. I ordered them and planted them, last October, in pots and baskets. They have been in the garage until I noticed that they had shoots about three centimetres high. Now, we have plants everywhere indoors and it looks as if my purple parrot tulips will be the first to flower. The buds, like tight little fists, are just beginning to show colour and unfurl. I am uncertain about identifying the other bulbs because the slugs have eaten part of the labels. It will not matter; I will enjoy anything that flowers brightly to cheer my February.

I am wondering if I will be doing all this again next year or if I will be going out of the confines of my beautiful ‘prison’. One thing I am sure about, though, is that I will be wearing a (new) mask for some time to come.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star.)


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