It’s hard to find something to post about when you do nothing but spend time at home. We’ve had glorious weather and I’ve been working like a madwoman in the garden, physically exhausting myself in the process. The more I work the less there is to see, the more dry brown earth emerges. The more I dig the bigger the piles of plastic sacks filled with weeds grow, ditto the piles of brush, shrub prunings and whole uprooted shrubs lying in corners which should, by now, be attractive and tidy areas for sitting and watching the garden grow. I shall be ever so cross if I die before I can replant everything next autumn or spring; all that work for nothing.
There is a good thing about being physically active outdoors: it makes for a cheerful and happy state of mind, so maybe it’s not all for nothing. Paul still comes once a week, but now only for two hours, his energy doesn’t last for longer. I almost exclusively reserve the jobs which are too hard for me to do, nothing routine like weeding, he still has strength, even if his stamina leaves much to be desired. Agewise, I could be his mother yet I work harder than he does. I am glad that he officially stops work after two hours and doesn’t drag out his time with me to three hours, as previously, with a rather long tea break in between. There’s no tea break now and I only pay him for two hours. I like Paul very much, he is a nice chap and knowledgeable about plants and I certainly hope he continues to come.
There’s a chill wind today, I’ve allowed myself a day off. Once or twice, during the hot and sunny days, friends have come to call, by invitation, one or two at a time, and we’ve sat in the garden in late afternoon, at a distance of no less than 2 m and enjoyed a glass of wine over a natter. We are all very sensible and do not meet in each other’s houses yet, as per government directive. The incidence of Covid 19 in Valley’s End is minimal, less than a handful of cases and no deaths. Many of us are of retirement age and therefore vulnerable. There is one dog walking acquaintance who turns up once a week or so, who explains her uninvited presence by saying that her dog has wriggled through the bars of one of my gates and insists on raiding my garden. So, naturally, she has to follow him, scoop him up, apologise for her invasion by blaming the dog and look longingly at the chairs on the terrace. I must ask her to come on a specific day, she is obviously lonely.
Which brings me to a question I’ve been puzzling over. Ever since I’ve understood the meaning of the terms introvert and extrovert years ago I’ve thought of myself as an extrovert. I am not shy in company, I face meeting new people with equanimity, I am lively and chatty at parties, I talk to people before they talk to me. At the same time I can take or leave people and find solitude nothing to be afraid of. Sometimes, I am lonely because I lost my soulmate but, otherwise, my own company is sufficient for my needs most of the time. I even talk to myself.
But that is surely not how an extrovert reacts to the present lockdown? I am always reading about people who are terribly unhappy and longing for hugs and face to face conversations, whose loneliness cries out for human contact and who are in danger of becoming mentally ill. These people have all my sympathy, so many are old and alone, feel abandoned and shut out, but I simply do not feel that way myself. What is wrong with me? When I read these sad stories I question my capacity to empathise, I have no idea what it feels like to be in their shoes. Solitude to me is something good, something to be welcomed. Does that mean I am an introvert after all? Or even more fortunate, I am an introvert/extrovert whenever either state suits me?
Considering that I’ve had nothing to post about I have used an awful lot of words to post it. That’s what Covid does, it makes wafflers of all of us.