It was January… The children were small and the oldest, aged four, had just got a wee battery-powered boat for his birthday which of course he wanted to sail.
So, wrapped up warmly we went to the boating pond near where we lived at the time in Dingwall.
The sun was out but it was bitterly cold.
With the baby in the pushchair, big brother was so excited. We got to the pond and the boat was safely set off on its way.
But boat ponds in the middle of winter tend to be full of “things”.
Natural things and discarded things and the tiny propeller got caught in a bit of weed – thankfully not too far from the edge of the pond.
I carefully manoeuvred to the water’s edge and, down on my hunkers, reached for the boat.
I am told that what happened next appeared to happen in slow motion.
The sides of the pond were covered in slimy stuff and, like the launching of the QE2 (but without the aid of a bottle of Champagne), I slowly slid into the water.
The better half, very sympathetically, bent double with laughter.
Aside from the fact that January is not a particularly good month to go swimming outdoors in Scotland, we had also parked the car on the other side of the town centre with the intention of doing some shopping en route.
It led to a walk of shame through the town, carrying the wee boat as if that alone could explain the strange walk and the even stranger sight, while the husband tried hard not to keep on bursting out laughing.
I tell the story to illustrate the unexpected consequences that can arise from the things that we do.
But then, that’s life, isn’t it?
The person who walks down the road doesn’t mean to trip over the pavement.
The cyclist doesn’t mean to come off at a bend.
My sister, when she stuck a knife in the toaster to release a slice of bread, didn’t mean to blow us up.
Nah, she didn’t – but there was a great bang and a bit of black smoke.
It’s why right now we are living with “rules”.
Those rules exist to save us from the consequences of a virus and after nearly six months, we are remembering to carry a mask.
We know we have to wash our hands at frequent intervals and we know too we need to keep physically distant from others when we meet them.
We think twice about who we visit and when and about who visits us.
Getting used to doing these things, however, does not mean we like them.
To be honest, I would like nothing more than to say ‘OK! I’ve had enough. Can we get back to normal now please?’
But that is simply not possible.
The whole situation has consequences and is affecting people in different ways.
Job losses, financial hardship, anxiety levels and loneliness are all on the rise.
There are those who have aged considerably over this last while because they have not been able to get out to exercise or to socialise.
Then there is the complication of different rules applying, depending on different circumstances, to different places and to different sectors of the community, all of which it can be hard to get your head round.
All of these things have led to people becoming more impatient with what is being asked of us and that in turn runs the very real danger of people forgetting that not following the rules will have consequences that don’t bear thinking about.
And not just for us but for those with whom we come into contact.
We need to be aware that our lack of thought might well lead to something far worse both for ourselves and for others than the inconvenience and irritation any precautions we are asked to take create.
That said, neither can we ignore all those other consequences of Covid-19 that are not directly related to the virus per se but which are devastating families and communities.
What can we do to help families struggling to make ends meet? How can we help to reverse the loneliness epidemic? Are there things we can do to help ease people’s anxieties?
The truth is that there will be simple, little things that we can say and do that can have unimaginably amazing consequences for others.
Things such as volunteering at a foodbank or donating to one.
Checking up on a neighbour, dropping a note or giving someone a quick phone call.
There is no walk of shame attached to these things – not like falling in a duck pond.
Instead, these are hold-your-head-high moments.
Let’s see if we can change someone’s world for the better, one word, one act at a time.
The Very Rev Susan Brown is minister of Dornoch Cathedral and the former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland