Recently I was asked to write a short article on Lockdown level 4 which, for us in SA, ended on 31 May. Here is a slightly adapted version of that article (because I have been busy this week and only remembered to write this post about 35 minutes before it is time to publish!)
Imagine a mythical drone buzzing above the village where I live. It is still dark and there is little movement. But as the digital clock by my bed clicks over to 06h00 there are suddenly signs of life. A car starts. Bikes are taken out of the garage. They slide through the sleeping streets and out Beyond. The residents are taking advantage of the exercise window between 6 and 9 am. each morning.
The village falls silent again. It is still over an hour to sunrise. But then, as the sun peeps over the eastern hills there is another sign of life. Someone strides out up the hill. Another person emerges and another. Some have dogs, delightedly exploring their world, greeting one another with wagging tails and yips of joy. No social distancing between them. Arms and leads are stretched to the full whilst their be-masked owners themselves greet one another, enquiring for the other’s health. Suitable reassured, they move on their separate ways.
I moved into the village four months before Lockdown and I was just beginning to be able to identify my neighbours among the sea of faces I encountered. Then came Lockdown and five weeks of not being able to leave my home. Then Level 4, blessed Level 4, when I could at last walk up the hill with all my fellow residents. Now I was able to greet the man in the orange hat, the lady with the walking stick, the owner of the Scotty dog and the two friendly ladies who always walked together on either side of the road. Now I began to make friends.
The busyness begins to fade. Cars and bikes re-enter the village, their occupants and riders having had a good work out. As five minutes to nine arrives people begin to hurry home. And at 09h00 they slip through their front doors, not to emerge again until the next morning.
The drone glides silently away. We have had our exercise, reconnected with one another, and now gone back into our homes to fill the day with whatever we enjoy or need to do. Stillness and peace reign until the next morning when the pattern will repeat itself.
As the flyer of this drone I have one small concern. I know the man in the orange hat and the lady with the stick, and the dog owners. But all I can see, in many cases is their eyes. Will I recognise them when lockdown ends and they are able to strip off this armour of masks and coats and hat? And will they, I wonder, know me?
Time will tell.
For the moment, I am grateful to be able to see them and greet them and get to know them, masks and all.