The Curious Spring of 2020

February 2022

I guess people look back on the Spring of 2020 in all sorts of ways, and it was certainly a time when, for a while at least, it looked like the end of "life as we know it". And it was certainly the beginning of the end for how things used to be- even if it wasn't quite the apocalypse (that will be the effects of the climate catastrophe, a far, far bigger crisis)

I look back on March, April and May of 2020 now and it feels surreal. This was a period when, for the first time I can remember, I had to think carefully and answer questions like: Do I have enough food to survive? Enough medicine? Will I be okay if electricity supply fails for days, even weeks? What if the water supply is compromised? How will I deal with things if there's a general breakdown of law and order? Where can I hide or disappear to if that happens?

Having to ask and answer these questions, and others, sharpened the mind. No doubt about it. Luckily, the threat of Brexit in January 2020 (this won't mean anything to non-UK-based readers, I appreciate) meant I already had decent supplies- I'd stocked up for a different reason, in other words.

But did I have enough of everything? At that point, I honestly had no idea.

For several weeks I was unable to order food or other supplies from anywhere, so I sat down and worked out exactly how long everything would last me. Maybe it was the disruptive effect of the situation, but I actually felt, during that time, as if a new part of my brain had lit up. Day after day I would think, "You can survive this. Things will be different, but you'll adapt." Something energised me.

The outside world developed a particular beauty. There was hardly any traffic around. No aeroplanes in the sky. I could go walking in the woods and encounter no one. The weather was perfect. Somehow nature seemed a deeper, brighter green, the sky a more vivid blue.

It felt, for a while, as if might be on the verge of observing truly special, without knowing what it might be. I felt this way every time I went out amidst nature. Maybe the animals sensed something too. Deer and foxes were greatly emboldened. Crows fixed me with an intense stare and let me walk past much more closely without them flying away.

The ordinary world- or this weird new version of ordinary that's now emerged- came back eventually. That magic has gone away. But the memory remains- of something like scraps from a beautiful dream, or peering past the horizon, or finding a trail that no one else can see. It has influenced my most recent works in progress, so in a way, although it was sadly temporary, it also became permanent- like all the strongest memories and changes.