Lockdown Stories

Lockdown Stories: “Day’s of Frank’s Life” by David Liston

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Today is the 21stJune, the longest day of the year, the 80thday of the lockdown. Frank stood in front of the bi-fold doors looking out to a clear blue sky.

He looked out to his postage stamp of a garden and admired the various plants, trees and herbs within. The roses and hydrangeas were in full bloom. Soon, the bees will buzz as they collect the all-important nectar from the blossoms.

At eight o’clock in the morning, it was still cool, just 14 degrees Celsius, but the forecast temperature would rise to 30 degrees today.

Frank returned to his kitchen, where he opened the fridge and took his morning breakfast ingredients. It would be the same as every day, with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries accompanied by fat free Greek yoghurt. It might seem boring and repetitive, but he enjoyed his morning fare. He loved the way the scarlet and maroon colours contrasted with the indigo. He added the yoghurt to his pile of berries. It looked like he was at the top of a ski slope, gazing down at the cacophony of multi-coloured rocks below.

In a month’s time, he guessed, he could pick his own raspberries. The canes had grown tall and, with the weight of the fresh fruit; they needed support. Frank wished that his own strawberry plants had come to fruition. But the birds had eaten them. He had been told blueberries are easy to grow, but Frank did not have the room.

His tomato plants were coming on. Already there was a mix of new tomatoes, ranging from beefsteak through cherry tomatoes, but they were green at the moment. With more sunshine and proper feeding, they would turn red and ripen very soon.

Frank opened the bi-fold door. He felt a rush of cool air, running through his newly shaven beard, coursing through the creases of his face.

Frank stepped onto his patio. In the sky, he witnessed the vapour trail of an airplane.

It must have flown over a few minutes ago, he mused, as the trail dissipated into a cirrus like path of condensation. Whilst he was still admiring the trail in the sky, Frank realised he had not seen a plane for weeks. He smelt a car pass by on the road beyond his garden. He didn’t hear it, but the unquestionable whiff of exhaust fumes drifted on the breeze.

‘Traffic is such a rarity these days,’ he reminisced, ‘it has improved the air quality without doubt.’

Just standing there, keeping still, he became acclimatised to the rising chill of the York stone patio. Frank witnessed the birds resuming their visits to his feeders, with their calls providing a sublime orchestral backdrop.

He made sure the birds had enough seed on which to feed and they appeared to appreciate that fact. Many tits, robins and finches visited his bird feeders. The blue tits were particularly messy as they rushed to take as much as they could in as short a time as possible. They swooped in, landed on the perch, munched and disappeared into the nearby laurel hedge in a few milliseconds. Then they were back, chasing each other, playing a game.

All of this was much to the delight of the two pigeons, who Frank christened ‘Mr & Mrs Hoover’. They waddled in the garden, waiting for the seed droppings. They did not go hungry.

Occasionally, a squirrel would hurtle up the pole containing the bird feeders, turn itself upside down to take some seed. But the magpies would swoop in and frighten the squirrels away. Frank thought it interesting, the hierarchy of the animal kingdom. Squirrels would acquiesce to the magpies, who would be frightened off by the blackbirds. Pigeons would go on their merry way unperturbed and the small birds would flit in and out, somewhat nervously, as gaps became available on the feeders.

Frank turned to face the wall of his bungalow towards the climbing rose. There were many roses blossoming, maroon in colour as it emerged, before turning into a powerful bright yellow as the flower matured. Frank extended his hand to take a branch as he leant into the rose. He caught the aroma of its blossom, only to flinch as the spike caught his finger drawing a speck of dark blood.

Frank laughed at himself as he sucked the blood from his finger.

Back inside the bungalow, Frank sat at his dining table. He took his spoon and plunged it into the bowl, disturbing the ski slope of yoghurt and creating an avalanche amongst the berries.

The first taste caused Frank to roll his eyes upwards as he appreciated the exquisite variety before him. The soft sweetness of the raspberries, followed by the firmness and subtle flavour of the strawberries. Then the juicy burst of the acidic blueberry. All of this was wrapped in the silky cloak of the Greek yoghurt, cold on his tongue.

After his breakfast, Frank brewed a cup of coffee. He used only Arabica beans as he was particular about his coffee. Frank knew the scent of the coffee was one of the pleasures of life as he sensed its ingestion through his nose. Whoever could make the taste as wonderful as the fragrance, surely, would make a fortune.

Next on Frank’s schedule was a walk through his garden. Stepping back outside, he traversed his patio and walked along the gravel path, crunching his shoes as he went to the far side. It was only 15 metres down to the majestic white ball of the hydrangea flowers. Then another 15 metres across, passing the cotoneaster trees, towards the stone bird bath. Turn left again and it’s 15 metres past the acer and purple buddleia. The final leg is another 15 metres past the jasmine bush, more blooming roses and the sharp blue irises. The total circumference of the garden is 60 metres and 25 laps makes 1500 metres. His daily exercis

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