Normally .. wel back in the “days before” this little street in a little medieval town in a little region in a little country would be brim full of people.
Neighbours criss-crossing the street and central reservation to get to the corner shop for bread and milk and newspapers.
From around the corner hidden on the righ .. The “paperboy” .. ours is actually a grown up who doubles up to do deliveries .. with his bright orange bag bringing a daily paper to those whose day begins with a ritual of paper, tea, toast and marmalade.
Above the pitch of our roof. About this time our lovely hairdresser arrives .. to pop on her lights and make a cuppa as she sets about making the shop ready for the steady stream of elegantly coiffed “ladies of a certain vintage”
From the blue door and in the White House opposite “Pete the Framer” wakes up and makes his way over to his shop that works away all day beneath my feet here!
Under the buff apex .. a group of young men who are flat sharing … I see their window light up of an evening – appreciate their early Christmas lights and wave at them on a Thursday as we lean out of our windows and clap for all our local friends with work for the NHS.
The plant nursery behind the green stable doors is closed .. no stock in the yard behind, no daily deliveries from the suppliers .. no echoing booming laughs from contractors coming in to load up and remove product. No steady come and go of vans and big cars as people buy their dream of a summer garden.
Behind the grey gable end runs a laundry (or a “Steamie “ as they are called here) … occasionally I see a huge load being offloaded but it happens so rarely these days that it is an event worth remarking on.
No teenagers pushing and shoving one another – shouting over the road.
No Primary school kids dicing with death as they hop from the pavement below my window to the central reservation and on again (there is a blind corner off to the right of this photo and cars come through far too fast)
No kids on bikes, on scooters, on rollerscates and scateboards …… no kids!
No young Mums – pushing babies in prams and cajoling toddlers into being “Big Boys” and “Walk nicely”. Kids dressed neat as two new pins and Mums with rough hands, tired eyes and hair scraped into dishelved ponytails that we assure them look “artfully casual”
No “Noon Man” – the widower that took a pre-lunch stroll every day and walks below my desk at noon every day … I promise I am going out to invite him in for tea when this is al over cos although I don’t know him from Adam I miss his “company” most of all for being a constant in my “work from home life”
No “Mummy in the purple hat” with her dashund fur baby. No Mrs W with her tiny Yorkie, Molly inching their way along the pavement .. arthritis and tiny legs able to keep one another company perfectly.
No seagulls squawking at the door of the carry-out every lunch … begging for chips from the High School kids that nip in and out.
I could be sad!
I could sit and weep!
But in this silence .. in this absence I have stopped seeing fear and started to see something else.
People going home and staying there because they love others.
People who love their friends, their neighbours and their relatives so much more that they stay apart so that one day in the future we can all get together again.
People stopping their daily rituals, pressing pause on their lives so that after this is all done there will be less people missing on ordinary streets like these.
One day soon we will pick up the rhythms of our lives “in the time afterwards” and a new connections will be made as people can move closer to one another without the fear of doing harm.
But for now – its ordinary people demonstrating how powerfully they are connected .. by being absent, by staying away, by staying at home no matter how frustrating.
Its not showy, its not loud, its barely even noticeable until you sit down and really look ….. but this is it, this is really love. Humble, disarming and overall effective.
So for everyone I didn’t see this morning .. I Love you all too .. for the changes you have made and will be called on to make, for staying at home and saving lives of people you don’t even really know . For loving some of my friends enough to protect them even though you have never met.
This … this silence .. this absence .. this is Love!