Celebrating Gardens

Living through this period of social-distancing and self isolation, it does make us appreciate more and more the need we have to connect not only with other people but also with the natural world.

I can only imagine how much more difficult it must be to be living in a city, cooped up in a flat in a high rise block. No wonder more people have taken to growing things from seed. Even seeing things grow in a window box or on a window sill indoors can help. I can remember as a child seeing the idea of a miniature garden planted on a large plate or saucer, where cress seeds and carrot tops grew around a small mirror placed as a pond.

Having a garden has been a life-saver for many this year. Having the perfect weather to be outdoors has also been a huge bonus. When working in a garden, even weeding can be a peaceful, almost meditative occupation. In a garden the plants and shrubs continue to blossom and grow in spite of all that is going on in the world of politics and economics.

It is certainly the case that more folk are realising the benefits of growing vegetables and salad crops; exchanging seedlings,seeds and young plants of all kinds has become a popular part of life now.

Tending a garden, clearing overgrown areas and making space for more flowers or vegetables, watching rhubarb plants grow like triffids – all these things help to raise spirits and let us appreciate a positive aspect of having more time on our hands. One day we’ll be able to share these activities with family and friends other than on facebook and in emails etc.


Apart from gardening, another essential part of each day has been to go for a walk – our permitted exercise beyond the garden. This poem seems appropriate here –

Put on Your Boots

Put on your boots; leave your desk.

Let’s go for a walk.

We’ll listen to music in the sky

from swallows circling Drumrae,

from the blackbird high in the ash.


Put on your boots; leave the ’phone.

Let’s go for a walk.

We’ll smell the honey scent of bluebells,

the may and gorse in the hedge.

Even taste the sorrel’s sharp leaves.


Put on your boots; leave the post.

Let’s go for a walk.

We’ll walk the lanes while they’re quiet,

count new calves in Callum’s field,

watch parent rooks mobbing buzzards.


Put on your boots; leave your books.

Let’s go for a walk.

We’ll name many flowers on the banks

stitchwort, sweet cicely, red campion,

while wind paints fields like Van Gogh.


Put on your boots.


Social Distancing


We are living in a very strange world at present. Streets are eerily quiet, people are being let into shops one at a time and the majority of shops have closed their doors for who knows how long. Thankfully, we live in an area that is sparsely populated and we can at least go for a walk either in the hills , through woodland or on the beach without seeing more than one or two others.

Today, our self distancing walk took us from St Medan’s beach (above) to Monreith and back along the coastal path. On the whole walk we passed just two other couples – (and kept the statutory two metres apart of course).

We paused for a while on the seat that had inspired my Seat by the Sea poem, written some years ago.


The Seat by the Sea

‘For Frederick who

loved this place.’

 There on the cliff top

a wooden token

left for others

to share the sights

and sounds of the sea.

A little lop-sided,

as you were.

Leaning back,

as you did.

Hands in pockets

admiring the view.

In times like this, when we are deprived of ‘up close and personal’ social interaction, exchanging emails, phone calls, sending messages via Facebook or whatever can help to keep us sane. Poetry comes into its own as, more often than not, it’s a poem that will, to use a Quaker expression, ‘speak to our condition’.

We need to find

A peaceful place –

Where the sea washes sandy shores

Where gulls cry overhead

and wind rustles leaves and grasses


A restful place

Where woodland birds sing

Shy deer slip between trees

and bluebells bow their heads.

Places like this help to keep us sane. We have no idea when life will return to ‘normal’. Will we see life differently after all these changes due to Coronavirus are in the past? I think we probably will and I am optimistic that some good wil come of it all. People will appreciate the natural world more, be less obsessed with shopping – as they will have found out that it is possible, and cheaper too for that matter, not to be constantly buying ‘stuff’. Sadly many businesses will not survive, but life has a habit of sending folk off in unexpected and initially unwanted directions but very often, as we have found, life is – well OK, maybe challenging, but usually better and more interesting as a result.

Whoever is reading this – keep safe, keep well and keep happy!