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|