When life was a bed of roses

Like a vision from another era, a man with a scythe walked past this morning. I had just pulled the curtains and looked out and there he was. Like something from the distant past, striding along with a scythe over his shoulder. In these days of sophisticated machinery what was he doing? Was he an omen?

My father used a scythe. He used it to cut long grass in his orchard where his lawn mower could not have coped. His smooth swishing movements, learnt from a lifetime, made it look easy. But when I tried once it was heavy and my jerky first swish almost cut my leg off!

Things have certainly not been good recently as we all try not to think of the grim reaper. The Office of National Statistics is reporting that about one in thirty have COVID. Which means that I will have to curtail my outings again, just when I was getting used to the odd meal out.

My friend has been a volunteer for the ONS monitoring. It works like this. She was selected at random by ONS to ask if she would take part in a COVID survey. She agreed. A representative comes every month to take a small pin prick blood sample (she does this herself with the person watching). My friend takes a throat swab and hands this over. All done, and it is painless and easy she says. They give feedback via email, and she was told she had antibodies. She is contributing to our knowledge of COVID and, now we all do not need to test and report our results, this is where the Government gets its information about the disease spread.

My friend went on holiday abroad recently and suffered the usual waiting and crowding at the airports that we have heard about. She wore masks when she could. On returning, the ONS usual visit revealed that she had COVID-19. A Lateral flow test showed negative, but she was informed by email that it was positive on their PCR test. She does not feel very ill. But I have had to cancel my visits her and realise that life will not return to normal as I know it. We can never go back.

Have you noticed that birds sometimes go back to an old nest just to look at it? I can see the house martins flying up to an old nest on the eaves of the house opposite. And two spotted flycatchers have just returned to last year’s nest in my old rose. They have nested elsewhere but seem excited saying to themselves,

“Wasn’t it good when life was a bed of roses?” 

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

The flycatchers have returned to look at their old nest from last year in my climbing rose.

But they have not nested here this year.


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