Monday, November 23, 2020

Four Weeks of Confinement - So Far

I imagine that life in France isn't that different from life in the States right now. 
I go out for walks or to the grocery store. 
I huddle around the coffee truck during the twice weekly market, "accidentally" running into friends as we surreptitiously lower our masks and sip café crème in the crisp fall air. 
France has been under quarantine since October 30th. Here, it's called confinement -- con-feen-mahn. 
Our area of France, the Aude department, has had low numbers of the virus throughout, but we're surrounded by cities that have high numbers and full hospitals.
What does confinement mean? It means that every time I leave the house, I fill out a form that says why I am going out. Americans might scoff at this idea, but it does make you think twice about why you're going out and where. You also have to "certify" that you are telling the truth when you generate the form. 
So why can I go out? For 1 hour a day within 1 kilometer, I can go for a walk or exercise. I'm also allowed to go shopping -- only for essential things. The big groceries have blocked off sales of socks and underwear and books and candles -- anything the government deems non-essential, because it isn't fair to the small shops which sell those things that have had to close. Of course, people just order them from Amazon, so they've really made more business for Amazon. 
Today's package from Amazon should have a stuffed panda bear in it for Louis Catorze, our overgrown kitten, to attack

My morning walk today, frost on the ground and the sun moving toward the mountains

Today as I started my walk, I imagined sitting at the café in the main square and sipping coffee with friends. What a luxury that is. First, to gather with friends most mornings just to chat. Second, to have the time to linger over coffee and maybe a second one. To cross the square to the bakery and bring back a pain au raisin or a croissant abricot and break it apart, scattering the crumbs onto the sidewalk then shooing away the pigeons that eye the crumbs. How many mornings have I spent savoring coffee with friends?  The pocket of my trench coat still holds three little chocolate squares that come with our morning coffees - just in case of emergency. 

Another morning walk, this one along the river on flat ground. 

The last confinement, Grace and Jack were here with us. We were very careful because several people in our town had Coronavirus. We were keeping each other safe. 
This time, we aren't as careful. We see people a couple at a time, maybe coffee in our kitchen or a glass of wine in their salon. If the weather's nice, of course, we stay outside, to limit exposure even more. 
People have rebelled against this lockdown more so than the spring. 
"The numbers haven't come down," one friend lamented when we met at the grocery store to talk and shop while wearing masks. 
"But it hasn't been two weeks yet," I pointed out. It takes two weeks for the virus to stop spreading. And sure enough, on the following Friday, the numbers began to creep down. 
We had an 8-week lockdown in the spring and we had a pretty normal summer. The quarantine was worth it for the lives it saved and the feeling of normalcy throughout the summer. People in the States have been in a perpetual quarantine since March if they're being careful. 
Our area may not have needed to lockdown based on the cases, but if the whole country doesn't quarantine, the virus continues to spread and grow. 
In our "normal" summer, we skipped meals with the entire town, but we did enjoy concerts and dancing. We drank outside in bars. 

We visited castles with Grace and Jack, along with Jim and Theresa.
Stone built on stone

We traveled to Nice and Aix en Provence,
A glorious fountain

I went on a hike with my friend Claudine

 and Earl went on a hike in Spain. 
Along El Camino de Santiago
So if this lockdown of four weeks or six weeks helps us have a "normal" Christmas. Then I'm willing to stay in my house and go our for gorgeous walks, watching the fall days pass. 
And I'll also be counting my blessings. 

Another day, another view of the mountains


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi Paulita, oh what I would give to be able to sit with friends, coffee and croissants. I do my walk, go to my village shop and thats it!! Iknow my friends and family in France and Italy are doing the same.. Here it seems a mess.. I really don't understand it. They say non essential shops are closed.. I haven't been into town since 5th November, so not sure. But people seem to be out Christmas shopping.

My sons, are both at work. Grandchildren at school. Mixing etc and yet many of us are staying away..all so mixed up. Charity shop I volunteer in, is closed.

Love your photos. Just keep doing what you have too. Xx take care.

Kiwi said...

You certainly have the right idea, Paulita - to cherish all the beautiful moments available, whether in lockdown or when you have more free movement. Really a shame you can't have a wider radius like 3 or 5 km as you are surrounded by countryside, but I suppose people would fudge too much and start driving to ever more distant locations. Thank God the virus infection numbers are heading downward in France. Sure wish more was being done NOW to protect all those we love in the U.S.

Jackie McGuinness said...

It sounds pretty much like our life in Toronto. We went into a lockdown today. We haven't had indoor dining at restaurants since early March anyway. But patios were flourishing and many had spent a lot of money on making their patios winter ready. But for 28 days they can only do take-out or delivery.
We are lucky we have a comfortable home, plenty of food and wine, so no complaints here.

Mystica said...

I am on my eighth week of total lockdown. Here it means no going out exercise, shopping or anything. It is voluntary right now but since figures are rising I am not willing to take a chance!

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