There is a woman being interviewed on TV. The video feed is scratchy. She’s sitting in a beige and brown room wearing ear pods and is flanked by two young boys, her sons.
“We’re in a lovely room with clean sheets and have good food delivered every day. But we have no fresh air. We just want to go outside and see the sun, just for half an hour or so. It would make such a difference.”
She describes hearing people banging on doors, babies crying, a toddler running up and down the hallway, uncontrolled.
“I don’t think a little bit of fresh air is too much to ask for.”
Watching the news story makes me uneasy.
Bridie loves her job and up until a few weeks ago was living her dream in New York City. But if we’d waited a few more days to bring her home, a stuffy hotel would have been her quarantine fate too.
She got lucky.
Instead of being herded to the nearest Holiday Inn, Bridie caught a lift with me from the airport to The Farm, where she and I are sitting out the 14-day isolation period in a sea of green.
I’m writing this from a timber deck, swatting at flies and leaning down to pat the dog from time-to-time. A breeze licks my bare arms. The deck is low and has no railings. It juts out from the house over a recently cut lawn, which is rimmed by a rockery where butterflies dance among stemmy lavender, succulents and creeping weeds.
Beyond this feeble garden the land dips sharply, so the mid-ground view is treetops, home to magpies and kookaburras. Sometimes eagles. Then the land rises again, green hills dolloped with scrub, bulging towards the horizon. One hill folds into the next until they stop, abruptly, wedged against the slate blue mountains of Main Range National Park.
My favourite peak, Mount Barney, is our constant companion, sometimes glowering in sharp relief, at others soft, quiet, shrouded in mist. He has me reaching for my camera constantly.
Marching along behind him is a string of lesser brutes – Mitchell, Greville, Edwards, Cordeaux. They’re too far away to make friends with but have their own personalities, especially in the evening as the sun sinks behind me, when they shimmy in a quick show at gin time before fading to inky black, a moody silhouette against pink and silver clouds.
My deck is a far cry from the four close walls so many returned travelers and expatriates are struggling with now. I’m acutely aware of our good fortune, in timing Bridie’s return and having somewhere so beautiful to quarantine together.
This view has always soothed me. Now more than ever.