With most of our volunteers unable to visit the Orangery at the moment, we asked them what they are enjoying doing during lockdown. For many, spending time in the garden is an important contributor to wellbeing. In fact spending time in green spaces and bringing nature into the home has been recommended in the government guidance on mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19. One of our volunteers, Judith, has found new ways to do this, and with some unexpected benefits.
‘Why” asked my grandson “don’t the tadpoles have legs yet ?“
Home schooling at a distance- with three grandchildren in Bristol, two of whom are of school age, we and the other grandparents have been allocated teaching and reading sessions.
My remit is to fill a slot on a Monday and Tuesday morning – this has been challenging , rewarding and a learning experience on both sides.
It has meant that we have “seen” much more of the children than we would normally, interacting via FaceTime, sending runner bean seeds down by post and reading books together.
The life cycle of a frog however, is proceeding much too slowly for a four year old. The frogspawn stage and hatching into tadpoles took two weeks -but the legs !! Every week I take the tadpoles out of the pond and we video them and photograph them – but still no front legs.
I have reconnected with tadpoles in more detail than ever – from just knowing they are in the pond to examining them in detail, feathery gills, changing shapes and the excitement of children as the tadpoles swim around the bowl.
Keeping in contact – virtually
Lockdown has changed so much- less physical contact with many people but, for us, much more virtual contact. This is an unforeseen bonus.
We have, with the grandchildren examined newts, grown runner beans -some in a cupboard , to see what the difference is, constructed castles from cardboard boxes and done virtual cardboard castle tours.
We have filmed hedgehogs and maybugs, found robin and blackbird nests and looked at the dragonfly larva in the pond.
Taking time to be mindful
Life has slowed down- we have time to look and listen and learn along with the children. The garden is thriving, the pond is alive , the birds have finished the first round of nesting -and my chickens – well -they still seek and destroy any plant they can. They are forgiven as the eggs supply continues.
Much has changed, undoubtedly, but this has been an unexpected positive experience – not the same as a cuddle or visit , but we have all gained from these interactions.
All we can do is stay safe and be positive and look to the future.