The restrictions are now in place. Whether or not our Taoiseach wants to label it so, this is now a lockdown, for the next fortnight at least. So, I decide to do the only thing that comes naturally to me in difficult times: Write.

The home renovations are now paused, although the last six weeks or so had been an amazing jump forward in progress. The builder and his team of plasterers have been told not to travel to Cork and stay in Wicklow, their accommodations have been cancelled. The lady in the bed & breakfast had been listening to the government annoucements only an hour before I rang her, so she wasn’t surprised. “No problem, just call us back when you want to sort out new dates”, she said. I promised that I would, knowing how hard her business must now be hit.

For another two weeks, the garden will remain a bizarre exhibition of building materials, stacked, piled, and arranged in different ways. Were it not placed on our own property, it could probably pass itself off as a modern art installation, maybe – if one were to stretch their imagination enough – symbolising how we’re not so different from our Stone Age ancestors, or maybe the insulation boards piled on top of one another could be a warning for global warming. Maybe I’ve missed my calling as an art director for some urban gallery. Oh, well.

There’ll be some things Stephen & I can do here in the meantime. The power washer will tackle the house’s tired, dirty, and forgotten walls, with that pebbledash effect that was so popular in the 1960s. We have enough concrete blocks on site to practice weightlighting. We can make small improvements on our garage conversion, now a granny flat; Painting walls, skirting boards, and all the other little bits. Installing the TV bracket to finally put it up onto the wall. Putting up shelves and mirrors. Making it a little home.

We took a little break in between moving building materials around. In the mild afternoon, a comfortable silence fell between us. I looked up to see a magpie flying overhead, while two pigeons were in the middle of a courtship dance in one of the trees next door. The main road below was quiet, save for one solitary truck that eventually broke the silence of nature’s return to power. The sunlight provided a warmth that was more comforting and welcome than ever.

There was a understated beauty in the moment, in spite of the times it found itself in, and it was needed.

A version of normality persists. We got internet installed just before the lockdown. The business meetings remain, as well as the likes of Spotify and Netflix to keep us entertained in the quiet moments. We use WhatsApp, Instagram, or Facebook to check in with friends. We check in on our neighbours when we can. We still call our family, although up until this week, I had always been in Dublin for my mother’s birthday. A card in the post and a few calls during the day were the replacement, as well as the promise that we’d go out for a lovely dinner when this is all over.

In between the day job and the renovation work, there’s maybe a little more time for checking in with ourselves and each other, but also to do a few things we may have put on the backburner. Read those books, write a little more, or just relax with a loved one.

There’s plenty of time for that now, and despite the reasons why or the problems related to it, maybe we can cherish that opportunity, too.

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