The more I go on through this crisis, the more I realise that the most precious things are the ordinary human interactions that I used to take for granted. Today, I had to go to the feed store to get food for the horses. I’ve been apple-for-the-teacher strict about the lockdown rules, so this is only my third time on the road since the thing began. (Two essential trips to the shop, as the regulations instruct.) I am almost delirious to see the country beyond my front door. The hills! The silver birches! The views!
I am so entranced that I even find myself delighted to see the few other motorists. I have to stop myself from waving at them.
And then I get to the feed merchants and the two women behind the counter smile at me as if I’ve come for a party. We all stand twelve feet away from each other and talk and talk. We beam with joy. Eventually, I remember that I have come to put in an order. This feels almost melancholy, because it means that soon I shall have to leave. I linger, reluctant to give up the human warmth. When I say goodbye, it is a parting of bittersweet sorrow. ‘Stay safe,’ I say, as we all seem to say to each other now.
I’m so liberated, compared to most people. I’m not stuck in a tiny flat on the eighth floor without a green space. I have livestock to look after, so I’m out in the open air, in the verdant fields, under the high Scottish sky. And yet that little trip, a mere three miles down the valley, made me realise how trapped I feel. (Even as I write this, I feel ungrateful. It’s a temporary restriction that might literally save lives.) How cribbed and confined must those people feel who can’t see the sky?
I think: I shall never, ever take freedom for granted ever again. As always, I hunt for the silver linings. When this is over, as it will one day be, I shall cherish the ordinary liberties of going where I want, and seeing whom I want, and driving to see a view as if they are the most valuable things on earth.