Hibernation Diaries – Small Steps Back Into The World

In a crisis, we find out who we are.

I heard these words on TV the other day as we completed our tenth week of ‘hibernation,’ a milestone that saw Scotland ease lockdown rules to enable people to meet with others outside their household. The new rules have a distinctly outdoor focus, enabling family reunions within the parameters of small numbers, garden fences, blue skies and summer air. Thankfully, the Caithness weather obliged, with a run of bluebird-sky days and a salty breeze that sent our lightweight garden chairs flying. On an afternoon walk, my son dipped his toes in the burn and complained that the warm weather had stolen his ‘gusto.’ I sympathised, knowing that these last months, many stores of gusto have been used up. Perhaps just at the right time, then, the world cautiously unlocked around us, like a door or window slowly opening. We are told things should not feel normal. Things are not normal. It is not over, and for tens of thousands of people – in the UK alone – life will never be the same.

I look back on these last months, wondering what we found out about ourselves. When the time came, did we stand together? Did we care for each other? Did we show love by keeping our distance? Were we kind by extending our care to those in need?

I have to believe that we did, in a world that often seems to be fracturing into pieces. I have to keep believing that it is not us, it is not them, that there are no others. That we cannot continue to exist in a world where breath can be stolen simply because of the colour of your skin.

I have to believe in we, in all of us, in truth and in love and dreams for a better future. Because hope is our promise to the world that comes after us.

Hope for compassion.

Hope for tolerance.

Hope for angels and heroes, in the many guises that they take.

View to sea from rock

Filled with this hope for a better future, our week ended with small steps into our new normality. Sunny garden visits to parents tempered with requirements to dodge around each other at a socially acceptable length. My son’s arms stretched out into air, arcing empty circles of affection in a Covid-acceptable manner of showing loving feelings. A visit to the sea for a plunge in the blue water, grateful for the friend I couldn’t hug, and that sense of the sharp cold water bringing everything back to life.

And now, as the world comes back to life around us, I will start to write other stories. Though lockdown continues, it’s time to take small steps forward, to peek out around the boundaries of the hibernation nest.

We will not forget. We will not set aside the lessons we learned. They are part of us.

Just like the world that says ‘welcome home’ in a whisper.

And in her next breath,

‘Remember who you are.’


With love to all those affected by Covid-19, and in memory of George Floyd.