It helps to get a bit of distance, even if it’s only the 20km round trip to collect the village’s daily bread (our bakery has been closed since Christmas after a fire). It’s bright and clear and cold. A perfect spring morning, There’s a thin layer of ice on the windscreen when I start the car. After 10 days confinement, the forest looks lovelier than usual, as the early sun catches unexpected angles, changing the shapes of familiar views. The roads are quiet, just a forestry vehicle and a couple of 4x4s. Back home, the people who run the grocery shop give me a croissant for my effort, but I don’t feel I’ve earned it. I’ve just taken my place in the rota.
It’s not straightforward, living each day in isolation, to find ways to give: the other ways to wellbeing are easier. This morning, I’m smiling because this small act of neighbourliness has made all the difference – to me. I haven’t been worrying about illness, my distant family or how to keep the arts going. I’m lucky to be safe and well, able to do something for someone. The number of people who’ve volunteered to help charities, food banks and the NHS, or just knocked on the door of an elderly neighbour they’d not spoken to before, is a reminder of what really matters, beneath the politics and the chatter. They’re are not alternatives: we need to campaign, and work to restore a good society after this devastating time. But we also need to get someone else’s shopping and notice the beauty of sunlight through trees.