Musings On Covid 19 (Coronavirus) From A Rural Perspective

It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? I was thinking to myself, should I do a post related to THE VIRUS or not, and if so, what could I possibly have to say that hasn’t been  said, felt, or expanded upon already – on the TV, social media, and between people chatting to each other over the phone? Well, I can tell you what it’s like from a rural living perspective where the harsh realities that we’re all hearing about seem a million miles away from us here in the Scottish Borders. Many people who live here will be extremely fortunate not to have their lives too seriously disrupted, especially if they don’t have children, which will soon be tough with the closing of the schools and people having to work from home if they possibly can. And for those of us who live a creative life, like a few of my artist and crafter friends, then it would seem as if the UK’s recent blanket ruling for at least three months of social distancing, where our regular coffee shop meeting places will be shut, actually does provide a silver lining for us introverted creatives who can knuckle down and get more work done.

But, of course, it’s not that simple. I’ve only being able to write or paint in the last couple of days because I’ve been feeling constantly preoccupied with, and dazed by, the sheer magnitude of what is happening in our world and all the many ramifications. From reading about theories based upon the virus being a leaked bio-weapon to wreak global chaos and bring down economies so that other ‘powers’ can move in, right through to people not being able to take it seriously and still going to have their regular pint in their local pub where denial rules OK.  After all, there’s also been the suggestion that there is no Covid 19, there are no casualties, it’s all an elaborate ruse, don’t you know. On a personal level there’s been the back and forth family discussion on whether or not to go ahead with my 81 year old mother’s kitchen and bathroom vinyl fitting date. Should we or shouldn’t we? It’s been paid for after all. But she’s 81, should we risk it? Even if she does stay in the house next door, while the fitters get the job done, and then we give the surfaces a good clean afterwards before she comes back in to admire the ‘new look’. Are we being totally irresponsible to even consider it? It became a yes, as Boris’s live announcements became more and more prohibitive this week. And there are the stories of panic buying – all those toilet rolls, tissues and wipes. All that pasta, paracetamol and rice. Those empty shelves and full trolleys. And a nurse crying after her long shift looking after unwell people when she finds in the supermarket that the well people have taken all the food. Appeal after appeal to give some consideration, please! And here’s me just having read Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, namely, The Testaments, an ironically ominous dystopian story where suddenly the fictionalised oppressive, political, religious regime of Gilead doesn’t seem so far-fetched after all. This is the power of good writing, good story telling, and a deep insight into the vagaries of human nature which we are seeing on display right now. And what we are seeing in reaction to this pandemic covers typically wide extremes: from heart-warming kindness, caring and compassion, with the NHS staff battling valiantly while putting themselves at personal risk, to community groups being formed to care for local vulnerable people most in need, right through to disregard for social distancing and punch ups in the aisles over toilet paper.

‘I got hold of it first!’

‘No you didn’t. I did!’

But for many of us living in the Borders, such reactions and events have wafted our way for assimilation only via the media, like slippery rumours and tall tales, where our outside rural reality bares no resemblance to the images projected into our minds by reported events from more populated areas. For those of us who live amongst the green fields and rolling hills of the Borders, for those of us who live on farms, like me, the hedge sparrows are still chattering, the gardens are still growing with the plump green buds of promise of spring delights to come, and the tractors are still rumbling down the roads to plough the fields and scatter. It all sounds and feels as if Covid 19 is somewhere else far far away. We only have 10 confirmed cases here, so life goes on, while we wash our hands and keep our social distance in numb disbelief.

When I first ventured out on a bright sunshine day to the nearest town, filled as I was with curiosity for signs of a new way of life, I noticed the cars on the roads were few, and as I drove past houses and empty pavements, It was easy to see people were not going out and about as usual. There was just one lady bending her back to work in her already well-manicured garden. When I got to the supermarket, where the tell tale signs should have been most evident, there were only a few empty shelves to testify to the reality of Covid 19. It seemed a mild response.

But today, when I went to the giant of all supermarkets in the Borders, namely Tesco, it was a different story. Only half the flowers were sold for Mother’s Day, presumably the sold bunches to be left on the doorsteps of elderly mothers. And the shelves yawned and gaped everywhere. I wandered among them, not to hope to buy, but to bear witness – something I needed to do – it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see manifest such a social and cultural disruption to our way of life here in the west. There were no groups of shoppers blocking the aisles, no children running around with wild abandon, just bodies keeping their distance and hoping you do the same.

And as the sun blazed outside once again, I realised that all the fresh meats and burgers were gone, not to mention all the frozen food to stock freezers for the duration, all the lager, tonic water, and fizz – and I got an image in my mind of all these private Border barbeques going on, making hay while the sun shines.  And so, I felt dazed all over again. One good thing, at least, to come out of this pandemic is a short reprieve for the animal kingdom so subject to harm from man, and I saw pictures of a dolphin swimming in a Venice canal – an unprecedented sight.

So here’s hoping you manage and survive well this surreal challenge so many of us are going through. There’s only so much thinking you can do, so I hope you find some solace in your creative work, which counts at times like this just as much as ever.

Stay well, and let me know how you are doing in your part of the world…

(In the comments there is a fantastic piece of writing by Paul Kingsworth concerning the virus which you may like to read, highlighted by Pauline from The Contented Crafter creative life blog.)

Namaste from me to you

(images courtesy of pixabay)

About lynnefisher

Writer and visual artist living in Scotland, INFJ type Writer's blog: lynnefisher.wordpress.com Art: lynnehenderson.co.uk Twitter @writeartblog Writers page Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lynnefisherheadtoheadhearttoheart/ Artists page Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lynnehendersonartist/
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24 Responses to Musings On Covid 19 (Coronavirus) From A Rural Perspective

  1. galenpearl says:

    Coming late to the comment party here. The end of March and the beginning of April has been a whirlwind here in the US Pacific Northwest. Like there, schools and daycare programs closed. Toilet paper disappeared from the shelves. People scrambled to anticipate, prepare, adapt.

    My daughter with her two young kids has had the biggest adjustment, especially as she moved from my house into her own new house over these last weeks.

    But one thing here that you might not experience there is the rise in gun sales. Some people are preparing for the real human version of the zombie apocalypse. That is disturbing. And we think they don’t live near us, but here I am in a quiet urban neighborhood, and my neighbor said the other day that he has his guns ready. What?!

    I enjoyed your post and the comments. Interesting to see how people all over are experiencing this situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Thanks, Galen – so pretty much the same apart from the gun sales. I’d heard about this happening over your way, across the whole country. This right to bear arms is scary. I suppose they are doing it in the event that disorder and crime increase to take advantage of the lockdown, and of course that could happen, just like over here or in another country. The herd instinct takes over, like for toilet rolls, if others judge something as a new necessity for the current situation, others jump in to do the same. Yes, it’s fascinating how we are all experiencing the same thing at the same time. ‘Unprecedented’ is the buzz word here, but they could do with using a few synonyms! Unparalled would do. Just before I sat down at the computer just now, I thought, Oh, it’s been a couple of weeks since I checked in with others’ blog posts to see how they are doing, so I’ll get to it soon! Also getting on with novel 3. Many thanks for sharing, Galen, and glad you are fine.

      PS A lady got in touch with me on facebook about book marketing, not something I’m particularly good at, but she wrote a novel about 20 years ago about a lethal bio-weapon virus escaping from its lab and how the main character struggles to get her message across as to how dangerous it is. The science is good and I’m reading it just now. ‘Metal Rose – the different shall inherit the earth’ by Jessie Watt, who lives in Scotland. It’s pretty good.

      Cheers for now, Galen!

      Like

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience, Lynne. It seems much the same here. My husband is still working for now. And I’m working from home, as normal. Today I went to the grocery store for the first time in 2 weeks. It’s quieter. Only 40 people at a time are allowed in the store. There’s a line outside the building where everyone must stand 6 feet apart. Everyone was complying. It was kind of sad because no one was talking or even looking at each other. But it was also nice because everyone was taking personal space seriously. My days have not changed much at all. I am not getting much writing done. But I’m OK with that for right now. I have family in Italy that I worry about. But so far they have been untouched. I’m ready for the whole thing to be over. I also wish we had better leadership during this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Lovely to hear from you, Cheryl. I was wondering if you were still at the residency, so I’m glad you’re safe at home. Your experience in your locale echo mine and my hubby’s, though he is working from home. I listen to the daily updates after 5pm, but try not to overexpose myself, there are so many extreme stories and reports flying around. I hope your family stay well, it must be scary being in Italy right now. The UK are using Italy as their model for managing the crisis and to ‘flatten the curve’ that is going to peak soon. All these new expressions have been born! The leadership over here isn’t too bad compared to yours – but there is a sense of it changing day by day and the money side for the self employed is the current problem as there are so many wide ranging circumstances to make one rule fit all. I’m not affected in that regard, as I hardly make any! Stay well, Cheryl and thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bryan Wagner says:

    I try to keep my focus within the proximity of where I am physically. I find myself getting sucked into the maelstrom of confusing and confused media. Yet everything is doable from where I am! We will keep going!
    Thank you for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Yes, Byran, what else can we do for our own wellbeing? There’s no point dipping into the maelstrom where the information and ideas keep mutating into more and more weird and alarmist forms. We’ve been told to stay put, that’s what we will do, but as usual, we can find something meaningful to do, what we live for – which makes total sense really. So, we keep going!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. terrepruitt says:

    This situation is so much like many of the science fiction (prediction?) stories out there. A virus gets out (whether it be from a lab where it was created or a market where it evolved) and kills a sizeable chunk of the population. It’s crazy.

    And while some places the animals might be benefiting, I keep thinking the ones in the cities are not. I image all the birds that normally get food from the outdoor restaurants and the food people drop while walking and eating. I am far at least 45 minutes from the ocean, but there is always a large group of seagulls circling in a parking lot close by because of the seafood restaurant. All of those birds are forced to forage for food which is causing the ones that normally forage to have less to eat. My yard had been CRAZY full of birds this past week!

    I say if you can stay informed (if you so choose) yet enjoy your rural life far from all that is going on – lucky for you. Keep living and creating and enjoy. Hopefully we will get through this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Yes, it reminds me of Stephen King’s The Stand, which is a great read, but unnervingly more believable now. Yes, the idea of all the animals faring well is unrealistic, but I did notice a hell of a lot of birdfood missing from the supermarket the other day, hopefully people are thinking of the garden birds at least. I will stay informed, it’s important to, but I will enjoy my rural life too. Stay safe, yourself, Terre :>)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. inkbiotic says:

    I totally relate to that jittery feeling. I’m in London and it’s all anyone is talking about (while standing 3 metres apart) It still doesn’t feel real, especially when I’m out working in a garden and the sun is shining, but it never quite leaves my head either – a constant sense of low grade panic. Well, we’ll get through it, but I’m not sure what the world will look like once we do. Maybe we’ll use the crisis to sort out what society is for – I hope so, I think we’ve forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Lovely to hear from you, Petra. Yes, I know what you mean about gardening in the sunshine – all of a sudden the plants take on a different feel, like they alone are immune, as if we’re living in some dystopian novel. I have low grade disbelief, because there is no sign of anything wrong from where I am, unless I drive to a town, which I won’t now be doing unless really necessary. I hope society learns from this, we can hope. Take care where you are XX

      Liked by 1 person

      • inkbiotic says:

        I’m glad you’re somewhere so safe. I’m really hoping society picks up on a few truths too. This whole crisis has highlighted many problems we have. Interesting that this is one crisis that affects the whole world, I hope that leads us to working together.
        But anyway, the sun is still shining 🙂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • lynnefisher says:

        I’m hoping that we’ll all learn from this too. The word ‘unprecedented’ has been said over and over for this world crisis, so maybe we can have an unprecedented learning curve too. The sunshine is so welcome for the positive vibes it brings!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hope you all continue to remain safe Lynne. Where you live sounds really lovelly.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Lynne – I was happy to read your perspective on all this craziness. Our issues here are very similar to what you described. At present, I’m trying very hard to get my latest book launched (great timing right?), but it does give me something else to focus on. So far, I’m doing OK as are my sons and their families, as well as all my siblings. No one has come down with it yet. Some are working from home and most are hunkered down for the duration. Several are considered high risk. I’m still working, and probably will continue even if they issue a stay at home order. I work for an electrical supply company and most likely they will be considered an essential service – so no time off for me unless I get sick. I hope you can return to some semblance of normality, despite the mess we’re in. Hang in there and be careful! (virtual) hugs – ’cause that’s the only kind we’re allowed right now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      You’ve brought a smile to my face, Alexander :>) yes, we writers still have our work to do. All the timings seem off, for later stages of book development/publishing, marketing and so forth, but the actual writing and background prepping we can do. I’m having a redesign of After Black’s cover, as an artist friend gave me a great idea for it – to make it have more impact, so I’ve got that and novel 3 to get on with. But nothing seems the same anymore, nothing we usually hold dear seems to matter much, and yet we have to be occupied – keeping occupied is essential. Good to hear you and your family are fine, mine are too so far. My hubby will probably be working from home any day now, so we will have to get into a structured routine. I can see why you will have to carry on – stay safe, Alexander, and good luck with your latest book. Sending back to you a ((virtual)) hug!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. anne54 says:

    It is a very surreal time, when the only known thing is ‘This will end when we get the vaccine’. I guess we also know that our societies will not be the same at the end of it all, and how they change is up to us all. The ramifications of it all are overwhelming. Even just thinking about what I will need to live a simple, creative life for the next six months (maybe more) is difficult. I can only imagine how difficult the anxiety is for someone in a much more precarious state. Namaste 🙏🏽

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Thank you, Anne. Yes, so surreal, and even when there is a vaccine there will be those who don’t want it for a variety of reasons! I hope there are some changes in society when it’s over, but I’m doubtful – still we can make the resolve and we can hope. The time of isolating seems to be stretching further and further , 3 months to 6 months, my mother lives alone and she says she can only take so much news in, and she’s right. I’m only listening now to the 5 o clock live updates and when my hubby is at home we’ll have to get into a structured routine, even more important for those with children at home from onday onwards. Scary times, but still quite unbelievable. Stay safe, Anne.

      Like

  9. You are so very fortunate to be living in a rural community. I hope it retains its peace and sanity and safety as this thing rampages on. I am urban yet have noted over this past weekend there is less movement on the roads and less noise from passing people. I am hoping the young people who ‘don’t care, it’s not going to get me’ have gained a bit of sense – or at least some social education. And yet also over this past weekend our national figures almost doubled to 66 cases. There are rumours of community spread and I think when that happens this little country will be in lockdown. I now have to get my groceries delivered and I believe there is a two week or more waiting list for that.

    I am still feeling the deep sadness that erupted from me when I read an article in Emergence Magazine from Paul Kingsnorth last Friday, https://emergencemagazine.org/story/finnegas/ He put kindly but bluntly the fears I hold for the world and I had not heard anyone else be so honest before. I am simply sitting with this sadness and waiting for the light to shine in me again. All things must pass.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lynnefisher says:

      Thank you for sharing, Pauline, and I’ve read Paul’s piece – it’s so powerful and puts into words ideas and feelings which many of us will recognise and will have felt helpless about for many years now. I was awed and overwhelmed by it. Thank you for the link, I have shared it. We in the UK are preparing ourselves, wherever we happen to live of course, for the order to lockdown – because, like where you are, people are still mingling and gathering in outside spaces where they shouldn’t be. Even some London markets were open and full of customers. Community spread is going on for sure and yet we are still not at our peak of the curve for deaths and our health service will soon be having to decide who gets ventilators and who doesn’t. All of human nature comes out at times like this, the good and the bad, and the bad are making it worse for everyone. I know I am so lucky, my friends are lucky, even my sister and mother are lucky because they live in a rural village away from the more populated areas. Self isolating requires caring about others and the discipline not to adhere to the usual social routines, but people are breaking this, as you say, believing the virus cannot touch them. Stay safe, Pauline.

      Liked by 2 people

      • anne54 says:

        I have just read that very thought inspiring article. Wow! The concept that civilisations are about control is an eye opener. “Cultures that last are cultures that do not build.” Australian Indigenous Peoples, who are the world’s oldest continuous culture, have successfully lived on Country for 60,000 years. it is more than time we listened and learned from them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lynnefisher says:

        Yes, it’s incredible, Anne. The sentence you picked up on was the one that stood out for me – a simple powerful message that strikes right into you. I’ll put the link at the end of the blog post so it’s more visible. We have become too ‘advanced’, at the expense of the planet we inhabit, too controlling, too grasping. Stay safe and well.

        Like

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