There’s a field near to my home which I first encountered on the same day that we were plunged into lockdown for the first time, in 2020. It seemed to pop out of nowhere and I remember that initial view so well, a golden field of rapeseed baking in the unseasonable warmth of a Monday teatime in March. It somehow seemed to bring instant comfort. I had been strenuously trying to “walk-off” the anxiety surging within about the prospect of weeks blocked from everybody I cared about, whilst also trying to process unfathomable stories of death worldwide, and the only thing I knew I wanted to do in that moment was to keep walking and to take any turn I’d never taken before, and see somewhere new. That’s how I ended up discovering my “yellow square of hope”.
During such a dismal time, nature served as the most wonderful nurse. Like many, I felt that the daily walk we were permitted to do served as a bit of a lockdown lifeline, an opportunity to get into the fresh air and to see other living things, even if we couldn’t engage with them: Fellow walkers. Joggers. People walking dogs. Swans and ducks. It was as close to normality as one could reach back then, and it meant everything.
It was also a time during which I discovered – and fell in love with – much more of the area around me, especially my yellow square of hope. There was a particular route around it which I enjoyed doing each day for the first few weeks of lockdown, a route also including a pond favoured by swans and a gorgeous view of the church spire, but also one twinged with the lingering regret that I wasn’t able to share its beautiful discovery with the people I was missing. I longed for the day when I would be able to retrace that route with them, the day when all of the fear and sadness would be over, the day when I’d be able to take a moment to reflect back and be even more appreciative for their company than I ever had been before.
It would happen some day. The bright colours and soft, warm winds convinced me of that every single time I went on that walk.
Yet despite (fortunately) having plenty of opportunity to have since made that moment, I’ve found myself not really wanting to walk that route again because of its association with a really sad time. Perhaps others have found this with their equivalents. It’s a time nobody really likes to think about though on the second anniversary it’s only natural that we find ourselves doing so.
Nonetheless, the other day, I decided to go there. It was my first real walk in days having been in bed for a week following some surgery. Nurse Nature, with her fresh air-filled inoculations, was needed again and I was prepared to finally resist the mental block that had prevented me from returning previously. I was so excited to see it.
Yet despite it being exactly the same time of year, I was to find that my yellow square of hope looks markedly different now. Still a square, but somewhat bare, almost as though it only glowed when it knew the world needed some sunshine.
But though we are no longer in lockdown, the world still needs some sunshine, perhaps even more so, as it faces a war-shaped battle at a time when people are weary enough from the previous one.
This wasn’t quite the return I had in mind during those 2020 daydreams, but I’ll keep returning and perhaps that yellow square will appear once more. I certainly hope so.
Song of the Day: Weezer – Say It Aint So
During an anaesthetized slumber last week I found myself able to search for only the tried’n’trusted on Spotify: enter Weezer’s Blue Album, which I’ve been enjoying since I was ten years old (thank you to my older sister for having such a great taste in music and buying the cassette in the ’90s). Every single song on this album is amazing to be honest, but if I had to choose a favourite, it would be this one. What an incredible band.