Day Thirty


Paradise ducks

A clear sunny morning – we've been so lucky with the weather during this time. Each time it rains, the next day is all the more sparkling. It definitely helps keep up my spirits.

A friend calls. Her husband is in hospital and she's worried and sad. We talk a while until she's called away. Later I learn he is to return home that day. I hope all will be well for them.

Friday is another friend's shopping day and she swings by for a chat. We sit well apart in the sun and catch up on the week's news. As she leaves I hear her talking to someone up on the road and catch the words 'friend' and 'shopping' – is one of the neighbours making her account for herself? I construct a conversation in my head, wondering whether I would say, 'Mind your own business,' or 'Thank you for looking out for me (but it's fine!)' I message to ask her what happened and learn she had greeted a passerby who pointed out her dog's homemade haircut and they had a laugh. My paranoia subsides.

In the afternoon I go for a run, out along the shared path to the football field. As I turn on to the grass a pair of paradise ducks fly overhead, the white feathers in their wings flashing in the sun. I veer past the little caravan park Civil Defence created for the rough sleepers. They have a toilet block fenced off and there are 'wraparound services' which I hope they are enjoying. I don't see anyone sitting on their steps in the sun, but with the high fences surrounding them, I guess you'd feel you were in a zoo.

There's a barefoot football game going on in the middle of the field, about ten young men, shirts on vs shirts off. They look lithe and happy and if they're backpackers from the nearby hostel which was in the news for their drinking and over-large bubble, it's a healthy and harmless enough activity.

As I come back around the field the paradise ducks have landed and I skirt them to avoid making them fly off again. I like paradise ducks, not just for their attractive plumage and solemn look - they bond for life and hang out like good companions.

Heading home, I find the slight incline before the bridge tiring and turn left to go another way. Waiting to cross the footbridge, I come across my neighbours, father and daughter on bikes, so we chat while a pedestrian crosses the river, then I follow them. I'm impressed that the little girl cycles up the hill to our respective houses and dismounts deftly. We wave as I push my bike up the zig-zag.

Showered and changed, piano practice done, I decide to phone my brother before I start cooking. It's good to hear his warm voice and I learn that he has taken redundancy and it's my sister-in-law's last day at her job. He sounds relieved and happy, even though it's a couple of years earlier than they planned to retire. They're walking lots, exploring the parks in their neighbourhood, and thinking of road trips they might take when it's possible again. The travel they thought would be part of their retirement seems a very long way off and possibly not affordable in the new circumstances. I'm glad they're happy and adaptable; they've worked hard all their lives and deserve a relaxing time.

I settle in for the evening with the usual Friday favourites on TV. It marks the end of the week, even though that's not really a relevant pattern for me.