I don’t think I had realized until recently how much the past two years have taken out of me. It was my birthday this week, and since it was the first birthday I’ve had since 2019 not in strict lockdown, I took the opportunity to take the day off and go out for the day. It was wonderful.

Don’t get me wrong: I know that I am incredibly lucky compared to many people. I still have a job, a house, and so far I have not lost anyone close to me to Covid. I count myself extremely fortunate for all of that. I am, however, bone tired. Worrying about family and friends, working harder than I ever have to cover for colleagues off-sick long-term, having to watch the mental health of loved ones deteriorate, all of it has been hard and has taken its toll.

So on my birthday, I took a day off and we went to a National Trust property near to us. We walked around the gardens and grounds, and slowed down to look at things. As we wandered through an old apple orchard, we saw three or four mistle thrushes foraging in the grass beneath the trees. They are unfortunately a species in decline now, and I haven’t seen one for ages. Appropriately enough, the apple trees in the orchard were covered in mistletoe, and we looked closely at the lime green stems of the mistletoe burrowing deep into the bark of the apple trees’ branches. The whole scene — the old apple trees, the mistletoe, and the mistle thrushes — seemed so right together that we just stood and looked at it for ages. They are intertwined organisms, as we all are, but it was nice for a while to think about them and not our own complex network of connections and obligations. It made me feel a bit less weary for a while.

I’m going to try to go easier on myself. I can’t keep pretending that I can carry on like this indefinitely, and I need to find a way to recuperate a bit. If you need me, I’ll be in the orchard.