Liv Hambrett

Germany + Australia + Culture + Motherhood + Home

Essays, Life, Motherhood

It Looks Like Music

An email came through from work yesterday. It’s official: according to the state’s legislation, Covid-19 will now be treated like any other illness. Three years to the month it all began, it’s over.

I wrote The Therapy of Puppy School during 2021 as a way of remembering those strange times but also maintaing some sort of perspective, some sort of sanity. We were deep in the mask-wearing, rapid-testing, lockdown-hating zone. The pandemic reached every single square inch of life, and yet … life just kept going. And now we’re out the other side and all that remains is the occasional forgotten mask in a jacket pocket and the unshakeable feeling, as you walk into the shops, that you should be wearing it.


School breaks for the autumn holidays and we throw the kids, the dog, some groceries and the gumboots in the boot of the car and drive to the northern part of Denmark. It’s just shy of a four-hour drive to where we have rented a house for a week with friends and their nearly three-year-old. It’s a glass-fronted beach house, low in the dunes, with a wraparound porch. Just over the grassy, wheat-coloured hills is the furious North Sea, working herself up into an autumnal fury. The houses around us, with the exception of one, aren’t occupied. We’re isolated and remote. It’s the perfect pandemic getaway.

The wind is unbelievable. On some days, we have to walk backwards to get over the hill and down to the water. If you face forward, the grains scratch at your eyes, blasts your skin. Down on the shoreline, the water has been churned and puffed and the wind’s howl is so noisy it’s like having a train in your head, but at least the wet sand can’t reach our eyes. We fly kites and the kids run through the foaming water. There’s a little aquarium nearby, and a naval museum. We do a day trip to a small town and in a warm little bakery, buy boxes of cakes and cookies. The Danes do excellent cakes and cookies, sweet and chewy and soft. On one afternoon, there’s enough sun and the wind settles long enough to sit out on the porch with a board of Danish cheese and watch the kids kick a ball and play cricket. It all feels normal. A normal holiday, a normal break in the school term, in the uni’s semester, a week away with friends.

But at the same time, it feels like we’re simply waiting, sitting in a little pocket of calm while a storm brews somewhere off the coast. With the election over, the new government forming and winter on its way, the powers that be have remembered we’re still in a pandemic. While we’re off on our Corona-friendly holiday, tucked into the windy dunes of northern Denmark, the noise machine grinds to a start again. Emails have been coming in from work regularly, amendments to hygiene rules, students who are ill or quarantining or have had close contact and won’t be in class. My colleague, working purely online this semester, and I are in constant motion, making the lectures accessible, safe, online, offline, available and ensuring the activities function in a masked class with 1.5m between the students. My husband’s workplace starts to talk, once more, about returning to working in cohorts, splitting everyone between the office and working from home. The news tracks the stagnation of vaccination rates, and people start to get nervous. We all remember last November. 

The preoccupation with it all drones on like a worker bee, a low and steady thrum even as, in this little pocket of calm up here in Vjelby, we light the fire every afternoon and read the kids books and take the dog down to the stormy shore. The five-year-old, forever an early bird, forces us out in the morning, to catch the orange sunrises. The dog needs walking, the TV stays off, the work laptop only gets switched on once. At some point, towards the end of our week there, our son looks at the North Sea, driven wild by wind, the water like piano keys under a mad pianist and says, ‘it looks like music.’ I look at him and then the ocean and, quite apart from being struck by his literary genius, I am struck by how he sees the world. How, in that moment, as I am thinking about what this winter will bring, when Australia will open its borders, when the children will be eligible for vaccination, how we will manage another lockdown, a little boy looks at the ocean and calls it music.

The Therapy of Puppy School is available on Amazon DE as a paperback and ebook and on Amazon UK, US and Australia as an ebook.


  1. Martina

    5 April, 2023 at 10:59 am

    This is so beautifully written…and I can see the music 🎶❤️

  2. Jo Hambrett

    5 April, 2023 at 1:20 pm

    Lovely Liv just lovely

  3. Anonymous

    6 April, 2023 at 11:36 am

    Dear Liv! So good to read your essays. Since years I follow them and admire them. Beautiful! I myself lived in Queensland 1960-67
    and often feel with you. Love Heidi Adam

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