• Spring offers a much-needed sense of hope and normality in otherwise unprecedented times

  • Jackee Holder reflects on life before and after the coronavirus lockdown and on what nature can teach us at this time

  • Our therapists have switched to working online – if you are struggling to cope with covid-19's restrictions, find your therapist here

Before the arrival of Covid-19 I was someone who made time to be in nature whenever I could. However since the start of 2020, life before COVID 19 was full to capacity and work filled my hours and days, taking me away from my love of walking the city streets and its green pastures in the early mornings. 

Almost as if a tester on the morning after the recent arrival of storm Dennis to the UK whilst sitting at my dining room table I reflected on how all through the night, the wind howled and the rain pelted down like jumping jacks on the pavement. I wanted to go out for an early morning walk but knew that within ten minutes I would be drenched right through so I stayed put. A couple of times I peeked out the kitchen window to see whether the bare apple tree in my front garden was still standing up to the might of storm Dennis. I am pleased to say that the apple tree may have bent and ducked all through the night but she held her ground.  

I find myself on so many levels throughout the day reflecting back on life before Covid-19. Looking back in my journal entries I wrote the following the morning after storm Dennis, “Now as I sit here writing, the scene outside my kitchen window is a far cry from the one that greeted me in the early hours of the morning. The rain has stopped and the ground that was saturated with rainwater is almost dry. Our road, which normally has lots of through traffic, is remarkably still. The storm seems to have charged up the atmosphere and now I am savouring the quiet that has descended upon the area bringing a calm overtone. Nature, as Tina Welling describes is, " ... our first mother and our first love, our first teacher in the lessons of life and the lessons of death." Reading this passage back to myself I see so many parallels with where we are right right now with Covid-19 one could be forgiven that thinking storm Dennis may have have been the countdown of things to come.

Now, as I sit in the middle of a global pandemic and lockdown I am finding so many lessons rooted in mother nature. Change is inevitable in both our internal and external worlds. Right now my personal life in the face of the pandemic in many ways resembles so much that is the architecture of the apple trees rhythm of life. Bare in places that are vulnerable and exposed. A personal drama now playing out in the background of my life, is stressful and draining. But at the same time the hope creeps in. My life and work when I examine it with an appreciative eye is abundant with potential, possibility and the glories of promise. Even with the arrival of Covid-19 which is claiming thousands of lives we must hold onto the hope. 

And as we cope with the beginnings of what the pandemic is all about I am left with no choice but to continue to observe how the apple tree moves through the seasons and to learn to apply what I see to the life in front of me. I notice how the apple tree navigates its way through the winter, butt naked, holding true to its presence and nakedness with a regal resilience and inner knowing. I realise that I have inherited a few of the apple tree's qualities into my own becoming.

In the height of spring from my kitchen window I look out toward the apple tree in my front garden and find myself filled hope. Why I hear you ask? Hopefulness generated from watching the naked branches all through the winter whose buds will now soon open. Hopeful that surely the leaves will unfurl much like the tiny fingers coiled in the fist of a new born baby. Hopeful that one day soon I will walk in the gate and be filled with surprise at the flowers that appeared suddenly on the flowering apple tree. Hopeful that this year the tree will bear the apples that did not arrive last year. 

When all is said and done I recognise that the apple tree will go on being an apple tree whether it bears the apples or not this year. I am learning how true this is for me too as we gather up all of our faith and strength to face the pandemic and the way it has turned our personal and working lives upside down. Whatever is stripped away from us, from our lives or from our very being this new place will yield something else and to be fair that may still be very much an unknown. But rest assured that like nature world events like this have the power to bring about transformation and shift the cultural narratives that are no longer serving us. 

And so three weeks in here in the UK and life seems to scripting it’s own chapters. Life before Covid-19 and life after. I think of the apple tree and what it makes of this time. How it marvels at how the scurrying Jackee hurling herself through the front door each morning trying to catch the bus a minute before it hits the bus stop at the top of the street has slowed right down. I wonder now what she makes of the daily lingering at the kitchen window as I mark time by a slow making of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perhaps she will want to let me know that nature has always been an observer, an external witness and that nature has always been our friend. Nature knows that this too will pass. 

Further reading

Why we shouldn't take trees for granted

Practical tips to manage coronavirus anxiety

Therapeutic landscapes: how nature boosts wellbeing

The benefits of being inside: my experience of quarantine

Grounding exercise to regulate anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic