Nursing my morning mug of tea I hear a light aircraft beyond the bedroom window. Not an unusual sound you may think but these are unusual times and our skies have not been criss crossed by vapour trails for many days now. I get out of bed but can’t see a plane, light or otherwise. Yesterday there was a helicopter flying high and towards the north. Probably returning to the Paris area from Toulouse or Cahors having brought one or more seriously ill patients to a hospital there. We are in the grip of a worldwide health crisis with a virus that is decimating communities and bringing each affected country’s health service to its knees. Here in France we are on the twenty something day of lockdown, a restriction put in place on 17th March in a desperate effort to slow down the spread of the virus. To leave home we have to fill out a form stating our reason for going out which we choose from a list of permitted activities. So far we have used shopping for essentials and exercise.
Each outing is, for me, a time of stress, of held breath, of overwhelming feelings of vulnerability which hardly lessen when I return home as the rigmarole of cleansing everything I have bought, worn , touched, has to happen before I can begin to relax. There are bags of shopping waiting in the workshop for me to brave touching. My shoes sit on the doorstep after being sprayed with diluted bleach, the clothes I wore in the washing machine…. This is our new reality but it doesn’t seem real. All around us the spring is happening, trees blossoming, birds singing, plants pushing up and the sun shining. This is a comfort but you find yourself wondering if you will see another one.
The internet is a godsend and a nightmare. Family keep in touch from their respective isolation points around the world but the screen can also tell of death rates, tragedies, new horrors to come…
Our horizon narrows as housework becomes the main activity of the day followed by a bit of gardening, some Pilates, a dance in the kitchen then some reading, not forgetting to check out with family and friends on WhatsApp, Facebook and email. Trying to do an online shop for collection becomes a major frustration as the alternative is physically frightening, shopping in a supermarket with other people, surfaces that may be trying to kill you..
Keep positive, you tell yourself.