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December 3, 2020

I used to look forward to summer but I’m now embracing all of the seasons…


I used to look forward to summer.  Summertime – tan time.  Everything always felt better with a tan. I never embraced being a Snow White in winter.

However, in March I was sat in an exquisite dining room of a house with a 10-year-old who I tutored.  When the mother of the child walked in.

‘Boris Johnson is announcing a speech about whether the schools will shut…’

I cannot remember the exact time, but my heart lurched into my mouth.  I had just paid my final payment towards my debts.  A much-awaited time of celebration after enduring a decade of discovering how much debt I was in, a period of around 18 months to fully discover the extent, anxiety as to how I would sort it all out.  Help being pulled out from me every six months, moving twice, no security, running from them and being sick which was possibly exacerbated by the worry of the debts to finally be in a position to confront them head on and start sorting them and more years of repaying.  I’m self-employed for the reason it works around a health condition and naturally the worries steeped in.  If schools shut, the country goes into lock down… will the parents stick with me?

An hour later and the confirmation that schools were to shut, the UK was entering lockdown.  Straight away I calmed myself, things would be ok.  Reminding myself I was not the only one going through this.  I guess that was the difference.  While going through my debts and previous struggles I felt alone, pained, and ashamed.  This struggle was a struggle that we were all facing and many in worse circumstances.  I live with a family who are not young children and are fairly sensible.  We would be fine.

As it happened many of the parents did stick with me and we moved online, some parents halted but not forever and I was still getting a few cheques from magazines.

But when faced with a change I normally find myself doing something that wakens me up.  When I was made redundant several years ago, I went out for a random run.  This time I got up early the next day to catch the sunrise over the local farmers fields.  But this random act ended up something I’ve stuck with. It brought me fully back to myself.

Lockdown as a nation stuck for 12 weeks and adaptations were put in.  They had to be as I was now in the shielding category.

This is not a pity post; I do have a sense of gratitude that I’m in a rural area that many do not have the fortune of.  I’ve therefore not been as confined when it comes to being able to wander for exercise with nobody around me.

Walking around my nearby farmers fields has been my yoga, my sanctuary, and my meditation. Made my days so much easier and enjoyable.

Paying attention to what is going on around me. My breathing, my footsteps, and the environment.    It helped racing thoughts, thoughts of what has been behind me, past blunders, past traumas, and thoughts of what could yet become during scary times.

I started the year in wellington boots, woolly hat. Listening to the spring sounds of the birds.  Even became used to the sounds of different birds on perches at set times of the day. I began picking nettles and experimenting with nettle soups.  I watched the buds open on the trees and hedgerows.  From barren farming fields in March and early spring to summer and the fields becoming alive with a golden yellow.  Growing higher each day.

From wellington boots to flip flops and summer dresses as we were blessed with a beautiful early summer.   At times I would go out walking several times a day.  Discovering masses of blackberry brambles, picking them, putting them in smoothies and making blackberry leathers.  I watched the damson trees with tiny fruits as they began to swell and bulge. I tasted them when they were small, the bitter taste telling me they were not quite right.

Each new morning a fresh beautiful day (I’m not perfect here, I wasn’t up with the larks every single morning) as the skies filled with  flames of oranges, reds, yellows, hues of pinks and different shades of blue after the previous day had been kissed good night and hugged by a dark starry blanket sky.

The conkers as they fell to the ground – shells opened and showing shiny brown jewels.  The acorns and the acorn trees giving me a strong sense of nostalgia for my childhood when I sat under an old acorn tree for hours with my friends, picking acorns and peeling off the tiny cups for the sake of just passing time, elderberries, hawthornes, rose hips, apples, plums and sloes all coming into form – the transition from summer to Autumn. Each week in autumn something else.  Watching the Walnut tree with Walnuts on it one day and a few days later they were completely gone as they had clearly fed some happy squirrels.

It is now winter, and the weather is still fairly mild but it’s back to the wellington boots as the walks are getting sludgy.  The fields are once again barren and the harvest has long passed.  I am however waiting to see the beauty of the fields if they are coated by a blanket of snow.

Winters used to feel long as I wanted to go into hibernation.  Waiting for Summer.  But I’m now embracing the seasons… Wellington boots, scarves, hats, warm coats.   No need to just wait to enjoy the summer.

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Michelle Mcgrath  |  Contribution: 1,745