My first time out in weeks. Opening the gate feels strange, as if someone will appear and order me back inside.

In this pre-dawn light the air’s cool and pricks my eyes sending unjustified tears down my cheeks that I brush away with the back of my hand.

The road’s empty. Corfe Mullen folk don’t rise early and I’m thankful. Birds start to sing as I descend Hayward’s Lane, past may-blooms of hawthorn with bluebells and primroses scattered below. The smell of spring creeps through hedges and up from the warming earth – growing, pushing, pulsating – bringing new life and hope.

A dog fox, light glinting on the feathered hairs of his brush, trots purposefully through the wet coarse grass of Buttercup Field. I keep walking, thinking of Captain Tom Moore, 99 years old and now a nation’s hero. He walked 100 laps of his garden for the NHS, aided by a walking frame. His target of one thousand pounds was smashed by a tsunami of love, now the total has reached twenty million pounds, and is still rising. 

Bird song, synchronised with the sunrise, increases. Down Knoll Lane a roe deer feeds undisturbed on bluebells in Attwell’s Copse, it’s surrounded by hazel coppice bursting with an unreal green. Try to capture the colour in a photo or a painting and you’ll probably fail. It’s too green.

My mind is free – I can be anywhere

A reporter asked Captain Tom if he minded the lockdown. “My mind is free”, he replied, “I can be anywhere”. I think about freedom, what that means, why it’s important – about those killed by Covid-19 who will never be free again, or maybe they have the ultimate freedom?

There seem to be more wood anemones on the copse boundary bank this year, delicate white blooms are starting to open, edged by a rosette of feathered green leaves – I should copy the Romans and pick one to see off pestilence, I’m a sucker for superstition but the sad weeping refrain of a bullfinch calls me home. 

For now, home equals safety and that’s reassuring, I don’t crave physical freedom. Like Tom, my mind is free and, though my daily wanderings are limited, I can be anywhere when I close my eyes – even in lockdown.