During our Melbourne lockdown, 2020, we were each allocated one hour of exercise per day. I drove to the local car park, which overlooks an oval surrounded by trees, and beyond that, a river. There I would just sit before my walk.
This was a most splendid moment for me. It was winter, so I took my friend Chery’s home-made blanket with me and snuggled in. Out came my laptop with some handwritten notes to be typed up, and often a book to buoy the spirits and for inspiration. (More of that in another blog.) The books, the papers, and the laptop all fought with the coffee cup for position on my knees, which – as I was too lazy to swap to the passenger seat – were scrunched up behind the steering wheel. But I was content.
Lockdown might suit writers. We should be careful to say so because so many people are disadvantaged by the pandemic. However the restrictions allow us time and peace for thinking and dreaming – and space for the birds. One cheeky mynah bird tapped on the hood of my car. ‘We’ve got you now,’ it seemed to say. ‘This place belongs to us now.’ I was happy to be ‘got’. Sometimes a kookaburra would call its song from a distant branch, and I counted myself among the luckiest of these creatures.
Our city is out of lockdown – for now. The cafes are slowly opening up. I might even find one where staff won’t mind me scribbling away, or taking up room at a table. But I’ll miss the sanctity of the car park in winter. Some places are just hallowed. Certain events in life can bring us peace.