Saturday, 16 January 2021

Week three of readers’ experiences of living under coronavirus lockdown II

Week three of readers’ experiences of living under coronavirus lockdown II

ED SIERPOWSKI, of Crisp Road, Henley, has written a short story, The Orchard.

FRANK had an orchard, a small one, 10 trees. He grew apples all his life. He liked apple trees and apples. He liked the new bright green leaves of spring and the late spring blossoms.

The shimmer of trees full of green leaves in a breeze, the shade provided from the sun. The change of colour to a burning tan heralding autumn and winter. And of course the apples. Sweet, crisp and juicy.

This year he needed help with the orchard for the first time ever. His bones creaked, his eyes blurred and his body trembled. Yes, it was time to get help.

He sent a neighbour’s boy, Johnny, out to pick apples as he sat and waited.

Later in the day Johnny came in with a deep, wicker basket full of apples. Between them they spread the fruit on the sorting table. They sorted the apples into three piles. The eaters, the biggest pile; the cookers, the smallest and the medium pile of composters.

Frank said there would always be those that were only good for composting.

There were nine trees left to pick through, which worried both Frank, because it was taking longer than when he did it, and it worried Johnny as it looked like there was a lot of work left.

Frank called on another friend to help Johnny picking.

The next day, by late afternoon, they had two large baskets. The piles on the sorting table were larger. It worried Johnny that the composting pile was still so large, Frank smiled it didn’t seem to worry him.

The next day the two pickers had completed half of the apple trees.

Again the sorting piles were much the same.

Johnny offered to get more friends to pick through all the remaining trees in one go. Frank smiled and agreed.

The following day the full baskets stood by the sorting table and the boys watched as Frank gently but quickly ran his hands over the apples and sorted them.

Johnny looked sad that there were even more apples for composting this time.

Frank smiled and asked if they wanted to help again next week. Johnny and his friends said yes. They enjoyed their time in the orchard but worried that if they kept finding more rotten apples there would be little point in their effort.

Frank smiled and reassured them that it always happened, at the beginning and often at the end, the more they picked the more they would find. If you didn’t pick the apples you wouldn’t have any apples. There wouldn’t be any good or bad, until they all lay wasted on the ground. He explained it was a good thing.

The following week, true to his word, the boys found less bad apples and more good ones. And the week after that there were almost no bad apples.

Frank was happy. He explained to the boys that, even when he had done the picking in the past, he would miss a fair few and there would be more bad apples towards the end of the season. So Johnny and his friends had done a sterling job.

The good apples would be eaten, cooked, pressed into juice, even sold at the gate. The bad apples would be composted to feed the soil for a richer harvest the next year.

He told the boys to remember; even though things look bad, you need to keep doing what needs to be done and everything will turn out fine in the end.

EMMA-JANE TAYLOR, director of The Works Company, lives in Henley.

DURING lockdown I have been studying and qualified as a cognitive behavioural therapy practitioner, writing my next book (or two), fine tuning my business workload and enjoying community activities with my business events and my team at StageWorks and NutritiousWorks.

I have been interviewed for three global podcasts (USA) and was invited to speak at a Canadian Women Empowerment event on “enjoying the positives during the chaos”.

I have been enjoying Henley by day, along the river and exercising to keep mentally fit as much as anything and doing social distanced walks with my mum. I have used this time to connect and network with people both personally and professionally.

I have used many Henley facilities and businesses during lockdown and continue to do so as I can. It has been great getting to know more people in the town and seeing how well people are coping.

I have also supported a network of people at www.breakingthesilence.org.uk — a blog page I set up for people to chat and support each other.

I also found time to visit my childhood friend Sally Buttle’s grave. She died in 2000. It has been nice remembering people who are here and those who aren’t. Lockdown has definitely given me time to reflect on life and see it through different eyes. There are not many weeks that I don’t think about Sally. She was an active member of the Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society and Henley life, still very much missed 20 years later.

My daughter and I have also enjoyed the fun of fitness and encouraging others to do the same.

CHARLOTTE SNOWDEN is a professional photographer from Checkendon.

LOCKDOWN V2 has been quite different from version one mainly in that the children are still going to school. Every other day while I drop off my son, I take the dogs and open my Couch to 5K app and do the run for that week around the school field.

I used to be very fit but after an accident I stopped exercising properly, so this app has been amazing — I can highly recommend it. You choose a mentor (I have Michael Johnson) and he coaches you though various running and walking scenarios to raise your stamina, so that after nine weeks you should be able to run 5km.

The dogs are a big part of our life and when possible they get walked three times a day.

Roger, our Dandie Dinmont, is very low to the ground so always comes back covered in mud, which is not great for keeping the house clean, but I’ve been making time to clean and tidy the house as well as sort all the drawers and cupboards that now need redoing from the last lockdown.

I’ve been busy photographing families and pets in the autumn leaves, which has been very successful. Also, I have been documenting the change in the leaves over the two lockdowns, so from bare branches to green to orange and back to bare again.

Nikon very kindly loaned me a mirrorless camera, the Z6, for me to try out. It’s very lightweight compared to my D4s — DSLR camera. I’m contemplating changing my whole kit to this system, although it needs a lot more rigorous testing yet after lockdown.

I’m busy organising a small gathering of female photographers which I am hoping can still go ahead in mid-December. I think it is very important to have a support group and these ladies are all established and wonderful photographers. We always have a good time when we get together. Each time we meet it’s at a different photographer’s house and this time, it’s my turn to host.

One of my favourite things to do during lockdown is watch a movie on the sofa with my son Sam, although often our choice of movie differs but we always find something we both can watch. I’m looking forward to regaining our freedom again.

LIS RANSOM’S third week in lockdown looks ahead to vaccines and Christmas.

Monday, November 16

ANOTHER week, another two vaccines on the scene. Britain orders 5m doses from American Moderna. Janssen in Belgium also has one ready. Come on, Astra Zeneca!

Do my covid test. Courier picks it up. Later receive email to tell me it has been collected. I know.

Husband joins 60 others online for choral society rehearsal of carols: each zoomer sings solo into a microphone, can’t hear anyone else. Tough on musicians.

Pigeon changes hands in China for £1.5million. Wonderful birds, coos the seller. Our garden is full of them.

Tuesday, November 17

KITCHEN paint colour not right, need new one. Essential outing?

Afternoon Zoom with new group, meeting for first time. What to wear? Just tidy face and hair and put on pretty scarf. Jeans and jumper never seen.

Parish council sends letter to Prime Minister objecting to White Paper proposals for future of planning. He has time to read and think about it in isolation.

Wednesday, November 18

TWO weeks to end of English lockdown. Everyone suddenly talking about Christmas. Government would like to release us all for a few days, scientists say it’s dangerous. For every day of household mixing we would be given five days of lockdown afterwards.

Created new bird feeding station outside kitchen. Good takeaway service but after initial flurry of blue tits, no new customers. Not sure why.

Thursday, November 19

I AM emailed by NHS to say I do not have the virus.

Oxford and Astra Zeneca vaccine will be good for older people. Also cheaper and easier to store at fridge temperature. Excellent, bring it on. A few weeks yet, we are told. Will we get a choice, which one to have?

Husband off to sing at church funeral. Choirs cannot sing in normal weekly services. Difference?

Families have taken to night walking. Local children end up sitting in puddle. Our Worcester family loses puppy in fields in dark. Panic, but she finds her own way back before them.

Friday, November 20

RECEIVE letter in post to say I do not have the virus.

Zoom workshop on how novels work with book club’s favourite prof. Husband does online choir at same time. Connection goes unstable. Know how it feels.

Villagers no nearer finding out who placed poppy tribute on phone door. Wait for next year.

Fantastic year for holly, but birds usually strip it. How early can it be picked? People are buying Christmas trees already.

Government asks regulator to test Pfizer vaccine. First doses should be in December.

Saturday, November 21

EGGS for breakfast: it must be Saturday.

London children taken on ride round capital to see the lights. Now almost a year since we were there.

Mistletoe growers and retailers in trouble… no socialising means no parties, no kissing.

Short video of Guernsey girls dancing to carols. One of the Worcester children writes his first poem, two lines about a flower, illustrated. I encourage further endeavours.

Enjoy (virtual) concert in the chapel of our alma mater, Royal Holloway. Fabulous — music has come a long way since we were students there.

Sunday, November 22

NO frosts yet, check tender garden plants. Good crop on orange and lemon trees. Still lots of roses in flower.

Virtual G20 meeting hosted by Saudi Arabia: world leaders discuss saving the planet plus importance of sharing vaccine: no-one is safe until all are safe. Astra Zeneca Covid treatment for those who can’t be vaccinated could also be available in Spring.

There have now been over 55,000 UK deaths but R number falling, infection rates flattening a little with regional variations.

Sunday papers predict tomorrow’s government message — our release from lockdown still due on December 2, plus hopes for a few festive days. Will there be tiers before Christmas?

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