Days Like These

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Today, we have sunshine. Spring has arrived, the garden is calling, and new buds offer new hope, and a new season. I am trying to be incredibly positive although I find myself struggling to come to terms with all that is happening in the world. I flick between being very calm to moments of panic where I cannot tear myself away from the computer screen, scanning the news for the latest developments.

It’s a stupid state to be in, but all that we have built up here over the past six years is at risk.  We’ve worked so hard to create the most welcoming holiday cottage we possibly can whilst retaining as much of the charm and integrity of an old French cottage as possible.

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We’ve  started tailor made holidays, and guided guests around our area – guests who have now become friends because that’s how we like to think of every person who comes to stay, a new friend to be made. Every person who has visited has shared a meal with our family, often under the stars late into the evening. Guests have sung songs, played the guitar and told mesmerising tales that have enthralled not just Roddy and I but our children too. We’ve chatted for hours, faces gently illuminated by the soft glow of the fire pit. We have discussed politics, and we’ve debated Brexit for what seems like years. Guests have cuddled puppies, picked fresh vegetables from the garden and gorged themselves on figs.

 

Soft music has floated on the air across the garden from the gîte sitting room, accompanied by the tantalising aroma of their evening barbecue. We love it all.

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We’ve started our online brocante store and this year have been working hard on a new private little shop inside the barn. Roddy made the room, building walls and adding lighting. He’s made tables for me from cast-off planks of wood whilst I’ve hung wallpaper and painted. We want this to be somewhere people can browse at leisure when they visit, with a glass of wine or cup of coffee in hand, and no one watching or peering over their shoulder. It’s all a matter of trust.

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And now everything hangs in the balance, our future held together by a tenuous thread. Our income and means of supporting our family are all suddenly up in the air. I know we are not the only ones scared and hurting. The entire hospitality business is being crippled. There are those with loved ones fighting for their lives, they are more important, the elderly and the sick, and I pray for every single person. But I have to be honest and say sometimes I feel like dissolving into tears because I can see all we have worked so hard to build here slowly being taken away. I pray that we can still receive guests this summer, and in the meantime we continue to make updates to the accommodation, spending as little money as we possibly can. We’re painting and gardening, working hard as if there was no crisis, we have no choice.

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I have to stay positive, for both Roddy and I, but especially for the children. And when it all gets too much I pinch myself, grab the leads for the dogs, suggest a walk to the kids and head off. Out of the front gates and across the road, deep into the countryside, where the small vineyards lay neglected, where the wild flowers are bursting into life in the hedgerows, where there’s nothing to be heard except for birdsong and the sound of our feet on the wet muddy paths. We’re far luckier than many, France is in lockdown but we are allowed to still walk in the countryside.

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I return home to more horror stories on the internet. A leading medical scientist has predicted in France that if nothing was done, if no preventative measures were taken, there would be between 300,000 and 500,000 deaths. Those are staggering figures in line with the Spanish Flu epidemic at the beginning of the 1900’s. And yet there are still those with the mindset that  “It won’t affect me, it won’t come here”. Fortunately, I believe in France and the French people, I believe we can conquer this.

We’re all hurting one way or another. Most of us have never lived through the horror of a world war. But many of us have heard the stories of the camaraderie, how communities came together and helped one another. The problem with this virus is it seems everyone looks at the person next to them with distrust, it is pitting one man against another.

Our two eldest daughters are not at home, Millie has returned from her travels in Vietnam and is back in the Channel Islands; her aunt lives there, so does her godmother and a great many friends of the family we have known for decades. On the other hand, Izzi, our eldest, is working in London. She has no family there. Today she went shopping, thinking maybe she should stock up on a couple of extra packets of rice, some beans and just a few essentials, nothing excessive. But she was met by a supermarket with shelves which had been stripped bare. She found the last packet of dried kidney beans and a very expensive bottle of gin!! At least she still has a sense of humour. But still we are worried sick as any parent would. I wish I could have all my babies at home with us, where we could all stick together, our very strong family unit as one.

She told me a story of a friend of hers who was shopping earlier this week. Ahead of them in the queue were a couple with two carts overflowing with more than 30 packets each of rice and pasta, plus numerous other items in bulk. An elderly lady just behind them asked if she could have just one of the packets of rice as there was none left in the store. “No,” was their reply and they turned away. What has happened that people have become so selfish and so self-centred?

I know, because I just know, that every person reading this is the type of  person who helps their neighbour. We all have to think of those in need, we have to support families and small businesses, we have to support our community. Together we are so much stronger.

Yesterday evening, knowing that all except food shops would be closed as of midnight, I headed to our local farm store. I didn’t panic buy loo paper, pasta or rice. Instead I bought young vegetable plants (fortunately being mid-march they are starting to appear for sale), and I bought potatoes to plant and lots of seed packets. We are fortunate we have a big vegetable garden. If everything gets worse at least we will be able help out a few people in the village with some healthy garden produce. Stay safe everyone. xx

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112 thoughts on “Days Like These

  • A wonderfully thoughtful post which took me through a whole range of emotions. Much to ponder and be concerned about. But rays of sunshine in your beautiful photos. Thank you and best wishes in these difficult times.

  • “I know, because I just know, that every person reading this is the type of person who helps their neighbour….”
    Bless you for this, Susan. You must be right. Brought tears to my eyes. Will try to live up to your expectations.
    Bon courage to you and your marvelous family. You may have late bookings, but I believe you will still have a successful season. You are magnets pulling good things toward you. Stay safe all.

    • Ellen, she is right. I immediately thought that her readers are the kind of folks who DO share, care and are generous….. And same as you I hope and believe that they still will have a good rental income.

      • What kind loving thoughts & words. I pray your daughter in London will find a safe haven during these times. We have one daughter & family in Windsor, England & one daughter & family in the eastern USA. We need to do our best to stay healthy. Not just for our sakes, but also for the sake of others around us. We can walk through this with greater strength together. ❤️

      • I think we all need to stick together more than ever now. I am aware that for some elderly and people alone the internet and reading is a lifeline right now if they are in self isolation. xx

  • Goodness.

    I’ve just spent half an hour or more trying to post a comment to say:

    A wonderfully thoughtful post which took me through a whole range of emotions. Much to ponder and be concerned about. But rays of sunshine in your beautiful photos. Thank you and best wishes in these difficult times.

    I persevered because I really wanted to say thank you. And good luck.

    The problem apparently was my password.

    So I hope I’ve posted.

    Kind regards

    Jeanne

    Jeanne Goulding Rivelin Cottage Hollow Meadows Sheffield S6 6GH Mobile: 07500 701667

    ________________________________

  • This pandemic is truly unbelievable. Everything is starting to shut down over here and the grocery shelves are empty. My children are also far away on the other side of the country. I think they are more scared than me, as they have never had to suffer any childhood diseases. Blogging does keep us connected to each other and learning how others are coping. Stay well.

  • I fully understand your worry and concern! But keep up the good spirit and the courage. It will all be over one day, perhaps sooner than you can think!

  • Bonsoir Susan ! Like you and many french Citizen I am very upset about the health situation in our country. I’ ve also read this disturbing forecast number of death toll.. But it won’t happen if Government decides a complete lockdown..
    I think that will be put in place tomorrow. Don’t worry too much for your family as you live in a beautiful and safe house within a small village surrounded by countryside. There won’t be any shortage of food supplies thus it’ s very sad to see such bad behaviour from shoppers in many countries but it is often like that when people are in a panic. Susan keep being strong and united in family and all end well for all of us in few weeks. I want to add a little hello for the great little Tennis champ named Gigi! Keep training hard into your large and beautiful courtyard to become more strong than ever. Philippe ( From Lyon ).

    • Bonjour Philippe, we have emailed you today and thank you so much. Together we will all get through this, if everyone does everything they can. We are positive, we wish we could do more to help those in need in our village, we are overrun with eggs but unable to give them away except to our neighbour on one side and she can only eat so many!! Our other neighbour also has his own chickens! Stay safe xx

  • It’s a difficult time for all especially 8f you run a hospitality business .It makes me sad to see some people panic buying leaving empty shelves. The shops have a responsibility to ration some items. Let’s hope common sense prevail. We have our family in England too and like you I wish we were together I hope that this crisis will pass soon and everyone can soon unite with families. Stay safe and hopeful.

  • Scary time, isn’t it? Fortunately at my local Leclerc I saw no scenes like the ones you described. Most people seemed to be stocking up on snack food, no surprise given that the schools are closed for now. The shelves were emptying, but being restocked. Like you, I am grateful for the kitchen garden. So far only the salad greens are coming up, but that’s fine. I’ll be looking for my recipes for nettle soup; right at the moment, that’s what I see to eat out there. It’s a good time to garden, to do a proper spring clean and catch up on whatever we have neglected: friends, books, hobbies, exercise. Everything else may be out of our control.

    To change the subject, is that beautiful wallpaper on an uninsulated wall? If so, how are you dealing with mildew?

      • I’m home, stuck at home for weeks. I’m using some of the time to plan the future. My future includes a barn renovation. So I asked. Not to ask, not to plan, that suggests that there is no future, that we’re all going down. I don’t believe that and don’t want to even think that way. That’s why. Let’s face it, there is nothing a retired architect can do about a world crisis, nothing but stay home, which I am doing. Planning a future project is on the level of catching up on neglected tasks or binge watching Netflix.

        • Planning a project is a great way to pass the time. I think we are all going to have incredible gardens this year, and I think a great deal more natural as there is no rushing out to the garden centre to buy a plant! Roddy joked on the phone to our eldest daughter last night that I am planning building this and that in the garden, as soon I will be bored!!! Little does he know!!! Stay safe and positive xx

      • because brave people are trying hard to live normally, to keep the normal in their lives, despite this multi-faceted disaster. Why wouldn’t YOU reach out to comfort people instead of scolding them! It could be that the purpose of this nightmare is to re-instate connection in a world encouraged to be more and more competitive by those who should be leading and inspiring! Carolyn Foote Edelmann Lawrenceville New Jersey “U”SA.

    • My grandson spotted a lovely nettle patch, and as I didn’t have time to follow recipe for nettle souffle, I steamed them, whizzed briefly in blender and mixed the pureed nettles into scrambled eggs. Delicious!

    • Everyone’s gardens are going to look amazing, so much free time to spend on them. Yes nettle soup, we have plenty of organic nettles, free from any sprays and so like you experimenting with a recipe everyone might like. It’s the best we can do. Stay safe xx

  • Such a thoughtful post Susan. We suffered terribly during the 2008 downturn here in the US that affected our industry greatly now we are nearing retirement and they say our 401ks may take 13 yrs to rebound. We are all suffering this affects us all. We need to unite and remember we are all “brothers”

    • I always read your blog and enjoy your common sense and thoughtful observations as well as your return to a simpler life. We are all in uncertain times right now and social distancing is making it stressful as we all feel stronger when in community. I hope that your online community brings you some hope and peace. Like you, I find that getting outside and feeling the warm sun and fresh wind also helps. A couple more weeks and our daffodils should start to open; another splash of color to brighten our spirits. In the meantime your lovely photos are helping to lift my spirits. I am still enjoying the lovely antique keys I purchased from your shop as they remind me of your French lifestyle.

      • Hi Susan, yes thank goodness we can get outside, thank goodness spring is approaching for us in the norther hemisphere, it gives us some hope. We have to stay positive and be strong. Stay safe xx

    • I think the world will be a very different place when this is over. hopefully a much better one. We have to remain positive no matter how hard it is and we have to all stick together, the blogging community I believe will be a great help to many people, especially those alone or as in the UK, elderly who now have to self isolate on government advice for their safety for 12 weeks. Thank goodness for the internet and for the ability to speak daily with anyone pretty much anywhere. Stay safe my friend xx

  • What I find must unsettling is hearing some governments say not to treat the elderly. It’s a sign of why that person didn’t share the rice of which they had more than their share.

  • Thank you for your thoughtful post and the lovely, peaceful pictures. I pray you stay strong and survive. These are scary times. You are kind to worry about others. If we all would cooperate and share and not panic hoard items it would be better and easier for all of us. Stay safe!

  • Lovely post filled with passion and compassion!! We have to be careful but optimistic…..like nature, the human
    race can recuperate from adversity…..to grow and blossom, As you mentioned on your lovely walk.Thank you!

  • Susan – thank you so much for your very measured story! Unfortunately and incredibly most of us have one. am already half-self-isolated for health reasons in relatively safe rural Australia but almost every one of my friends has been caught . . . a dear gf from Mexico, at the tail end of guiding a tour to N Africa unable to catch flights home . . . a long-term US friend about to have two months in E Italy for important reasons long planned . . . and another fighting serious illness in Scandinavia, health already compromised by necessary medications . . .as far as more than one post over the weekend told, those of us already in a necessary ‘lockdown’ situation may be the most content. For what it is worth – I believe your worst-case scenario re morbidity is far too negative ! Yes, we in Australia have also been told we may have 9 million testing positive and 100,000 dead. We were one of the first countries outside China sounding off and buying ridiculous amount of bog rolls ! So far fewer than 200 getting well and four, all over 75, sadly deceased. Each an every one learns something every day ! Methinks the world will get thru’ this in the next 4=6 months somehow ! We have to ! I can understand you hurting . . . so well , , , but if all the family will be THERE then, the rest can be attended to . . . much love . . .

    • We will get through all of this together, the world will be a better place I hope and most of all we have to remain positive. Because negativity does no good at all. Of course I worry for our two daughters not at home. we can do nothing to change that now, but thank goodness for the internet, for video calls and for being able to be in constant touch with them. Stay safe, we will, one day I hope, still get to share that bottle of Bordeaux xx

  • We all have to stay positive and hope for the very best. My hubby & I are part of the older generation with health issues and we pray every day for all of the world.

  • One of your very best posts, Susan! We were hopeful to be w/you this year & have Gigi meet our tennis friend @ RG—it seems at the moment wistful thinking. Lisi is also facing another major surgery tomorrow AM for a large tumor (had surgery last fall & now a return). But never-mind—it will happen when it happens! So for now, look up my friend—God is still in the details IF we see His loving presence. It does not mean we will not be affected but that we will find peace in the journey. I send you some tonight. Much love to your adorable family.

    • Sandi, I feel an email is long overdue, I have been somewhat overwhelmed but I shall write to you this week. My heart goes out to you both for poor Lisi, I hope all went well, she is such a gorgeous sweet little dog. We were so looking forward to RG, we had an apartment belonging to an old family friend to stay in within walking distance, all was planned. Oh well, it will happen again. In the meantime I do believe and hope the world will be a better place when we get through this. We must all stick together and remain strong. Be safe both of you and we will see you here again. Huge hugs xx

    • They will indeed, we may all look a little older when we see them again but all will be good. Thank goodness for Skype and messenger and video chats, thank goodness for the internet. Stay safe xx

  • A sobering and realistic view of the situation. Crises such as we are facing brings out both the best and the worst in people – we need to work hard at being among the best and you have encouraged that. Stay well.

  • Dear, dear Susan, As always, even when sharing very hard times, your posts shine with beauty, humanity, so comforting to read and see. May you find some comfort in the warm love of the community you have created around the world, and may your dear ones not at home find kindred souls to journey through this time with. There is undoubtedly a rocky patch ahead, perhaps more than we can imagine, but there will also be bright moments, heroism, generosity, goodness and creativity. I hope that we can continue to share those stories here…and eventually the crisis will be behind us and we will find new ways forward.
    With love and gratitude from a longtime reader in a small town in California

    • Hi Adelia, I think we can all get through this together by remaining positive, by helping those in need, by doing what we are advised. We just, absolutely must remain positive, I do believe the world will be a better place at the end of this. The society of instant gratification I think will be less prominent, we will appreciate more around us which cannot be a bad thing and take so much less for granted. Thank goodness for the internet, bringing us altogether, a life source for some elderly people in self isolation I am sure. Stay safe xx

  • Hi Susan, thank you for your thoughtful post – like you we are in accommodation business but at present have no business for the foreseeable future. Also like you we are lucky in the countryside where community spirit does still exisit and which also means we can get out for walks so we do have reasons to be thankful. We are missing our spring visit to our maison secondaire in the Charente so please continue to post pictures to cheer us. We must all remember that “Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay” Stay well, best wishes.

  • Love this post. I live on an Island just of the Australian east coast. Our last online food order arrived with many of the basic items missing. I went to the mainland today to buy the missing items. I had to go to 4 supermarkets to get a few items. The empty shelves look eerie. I fear for the disadvantaged who can’t afford to ‘stock up’. We do have a good pantry as we don’t have easy access to shops. Weird times strange behaviour. I so look forward to the beauty in your blogs

    • Your island sounds idyllic even in these tough times. Our second daughter is also on a tiny island at the moment, they are talking of trying to self isolate the island now as over 50% of the residents are over 65 and many with health conditions. Stay safe and we will all get through this together xx

  • We commiserate with the situation for all the people whose business is badly affected by this new virus. It astonishes us that the world wide crazziness for stripping the supermarkets is ongoing and no consideration for people who can only afford to purchase food one week at a time. As for all those people who have been allowed to take trolley loads of things like pasta and rice etc through with no-one stopping them, well what are they thinking? At least the two big supermarkets here have said that no-one will be allowed to take stuff back for a refund because they have bought too much , they should donate it.
    You are celebrating the arrival of Spring and I am celebrating the arrival of Autumn after our horror summer, time for us to salvage what we can in the garden and plant for ‘winter’ crops (I use the term loosely, we don’t expect winter this year).Still the spinach keeps on growing and is used in practically everything. Things will improve and you are always in our thoughts. Best wishes to you and all your family.

    • Hi Virginia, what a year it has been for you and I am sure the arrival of winter is a good thing. We on the other hand are so happy it is spring, to see flowers and leaves uncurling is some much welcome relief in these horrific times. But we must all remain positive and we shall all get through this. Incidentally, we watched a programme last night about Australia and spiders in particular, I always think of you every time we see anything like this and think of sitting on the terrace and your stories and the spider bite! H age hugs to you both xx

  • Like you, Susan, I couldn’t tear myself away from the computer, always trying to find out what I should do to minimise the effects of this virus. However, I have finally come to the conclusion that no-one has the answers. We were simply unprepared and each of has to use common sense in protecting ourselves, according to our own health situation and location.
    Easy to say but worry only keeps us from getting on with each day. My husband will be 85 in a few weeks and I am not far behind him and every time I looked at the computer there was someone telling me we will probably die of this. Not helpful! So, it’s one day at a time, staying home a great deal of the time and handwashing a lot. And praying 🙏. And staying away from the “news”.

    • Margaret, please stay positive, you will get through this, I read the other day of a lady who was over 100 years old who has survived this in China. We will all come out the other side, I hope wiser and a better more caring world. Hugest hugs to you both, thank goodness we can all stay connected via the internet. Thank goodness for reading online and video calls. Stay safe xx

  • Your post has touched me. I feel for you and your family just as I feel for so many around the globe. Your home is lovely, and I wish I could come there and stay for a few days. But travel, at least for now, is not in my future. I also love your photos of ironstone and pottery that you have for sale. As a former antiques dealer (only smalls and a few pieces of furniture in a booth), I enjoyed the hunt almost more than the sales. Wishing you all the best as you hang on and stay healthy.

  • I appreciate your thoughts and expression of emotion. I also appreciate your writing skills. I suppose I am a bit cynical and arrogant. We live in the states and the impact so far is relatively minimal. I look at the stats and wonder about the panic: high chances of infection with rather low chances of mortality (2-5%) and those mostly aged who already are vulnerable for other reasons. I am 74 and I do not feel any panic or see many stores looted, if any. It’s easy to be concerned but it takes effort to panic. We have not begun to experience the flu epidemic of 1918. I love the pictures and I desire to visit with my wife. Where are you located? I am optimistic enough to believe like the many virus/infection threats over the last 10 years, this too will disappear to be written about in the future with laughs and curiosities. Without truth there is no hope.

    • We are in South West France, I think the situation has worsened a great deal since you wrote this. And I hope that you are right. I do admire your positive attitude, because we must all remain positive and help others. We will all come out the other side and I hope the world will be a better place. Stay safe xx

  • Bless you for your beautiful humanity. Stories like yours give me hope in the face of empty shelves and fearful people. BTW, love, love, love the new barn store. If only I was there, I’d stroll among those amazing baskets, pitchers, etc. for hours, viewing them from all angles. Stay safe, keep smiling and know we’re sending virtual hugs and hope to France, Italy and Spain…indeed…all of Europe and beyond.

  • I loved your post! I hope you are able to greet many visitors to your home in the coming months and your family stay safe and healthy. I am hoping that my family and I are still able to travel to the gite which we have booked (again!) in Normandy in June. Your story seems to mirror the couple who own (and live on) the properties and I will be keeping them – and you – in my thoughts and prayers.

  • I really empathized with your beautifully written post- so many mixed emotions at the sudden onslaught of this unexpected virus. I don’t think many of us thought that it would spread so quickly and have such devastating repercussions.
    We too have now been affected in South Africa- schools are closed till after Easter and our borders are closed to non-nationals coming from affected countries. Our poorer and very crowded areas will be hardest hit and our already burdened health services won’t be able to cope.
    My youngest daughter who lives in France near Mont Blanc had to close her restaurant and lay off her staff, but as she wrote tonight she is thankful to live in a socialist country and was encouraged by President Macron’s promise to help those whose livelihood have been affected. But I still worry about her, and also for my other daughter who is a doctor here and therefore will be at risk.
    I can only hope that this Covid-19 will be over soon and that the world will recover. People are resilient, and there are many who will be kind and help each other, and not buy the last toilet roll on the shelf!
    I wish you and your family well and hope that your business will pick up again when all this is over, as I’m sure it will. Thank you for your happy photos- they brightened up my day!

    • Hi Ingrid, I feel your pain in having daughters away from home. But thank goodness for the internet, that we an make video calls and stay in constant contact. Your daughter in France will be safe, the country is doing all it can and being strict on those that break the rules as indeed it should be, because they are being so selfish for not taking this seriously. We will all get through this somehow and the world will I hope learn and be a better place. Stay safe and huge hugs xx

  • Our thoughts are with you all. We had a fantastic time at your place in 2019 and will be back to support you again.as soon as we are able too.

  • Susan, as I have written you occasionally, I live in New Jersey,’U’SA, and my heart has always belonged to France — light years before I disembarked from the S.S. France (1964, April) and my American shoes walked on French pavement and soils for the first time. I learned of being ‘depaysee’ (sp?) during my year in Provence. That’s what I’ve always been, as a tiny child with a book “Little Jeanne of France” on my lap. You know that i means being homesick for a land not your own. Is there one besides ‘expat’ for LIVING in a land not your own?

    My heart aches with you for your separation from your daughters – my forever fate because of a cult that took them fresh from their Ivy League colleges. That they are alive and may be needing something, ANYthing, and not seeing, not knowing, not hugging — let alone feeding or medicating if required — I live that every day. It is torture. I’m with you in spirit with worries about your very special life in France – I work for a land trust. I will be paid for two weeks. I am 82. I have always idolized the French, and am shocked that someone said ‘no’ re package of rice. Dog-eat-dog world, and many leaders lead that pack…

    The French have always been magnificent to me — God knows why. 2 years of college French (only reading and writing, no conversation, from woman who’d never left Indiana and didn’t want US to. I believe that my noble exchanges with the French are reality, and will surface for you.

    What I’m writing friends and asking us to do for one another, locked down s we are, is seek the blessings in this, the gifts in the challenges — and share with one another.

    Your own nobility is apparent, shines forth like rays from the Statue of Liberty (remember liberty?). You’ll not only be finding but creating gifts.

    Love the reality and the metaphor of your buying plants — affirming life and growth.

    I live in an apartment, main floor, but barely a garden. Yet, outside in glum rain, as I write you, one clump of daffodils (with a center like a flat orange ruffle) are swelling in the half light. We here have lost most of our birds, so any black shape on HIGH is a gift — two crows flew over with that peremptory air, as though this land is their land. Probably it should still be.

    Please know, you are not alone. What you wrote echoes my yesterday experiences: My land trust is reminding people that, though parks are closed (such as Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, near New Hope, PA, which will be awash in seas of bluebells, accented by sun-like bright yellow celandine and we cannot refresh ourselves there… governor’s orders.) — we are sending Constant Contacts with nature quotes by brilliant writers, reminding, “The parks may be closed, but our preserves are open.”

    I have the lovely assignment to FIND THE QUOTES – going for Annie Dillard, Rachel Carson, Robin Wall Kimmerer (Potawatomi elder, major scientist/professor specializing in moss – “Gathering Moss” and “Braiding Sweetgrass” her books), and sources on Forest Bathing. You and your choices, and D&R Greenway’s and mine remind that Nature is not on lock-down, nor are her shelves empty.

    This choice early yesterday by our CEO makes me think the divine purpose in this nightmare is to re-enact connection. As the French always did with my girls, my husband and me – stopping their cars to help. leaving their lunch because they heard our seven-year-old, intent upon her heroine Jeanne d’Arc, wondering how we could find the battlefield at Orleans. A man told his waiter to postpone his order, and drove us to the right road. There is great nobility in people, Susan – and you and your family are proof of this. You’ll let us know when where and how the gifts materialize.

    allow me to send love and strong healing and protective light to you and all residing in ‘my other country.’ Carolyn

    • Carolyn, your words really ring true to me. We will all get through this and everyone must help one another. I am constantly grateful for the internet, that we can stay connected, for video calls and for the ability to read online. I think for many elderly people, and people who are alone this will be a lifeline if they are in isolation, we can help people to not feel alone, we have to reach out to strangers and make sure people are ok, keeping their spirits high is so important. We have to all remain positive no matter what, because we will all get through this. My hope is that when we do the world will learn, that people will take less for granted, that the need for instant gratification will be lessened. I hope the world will be a better place. But in the meantime we must do all we can to help one another. Stay safe and big hugs xx

      • Dear Susan,

        You have nourished me far more than you know, far longer than you know.

        Thank you for caring about my response to your courage and your great outreach. You therefore triggered my return to my nature blog, NJWILDBEAUTY. Called into being by Princeton Packet decades ago by a cherished editor (I had never even heard word ‘blog’), I kept it even after the Packet’s shrinking, [as has so much of our journalism], ended their role in it. The way you help people to know and love our France, I try to effect that with NJWB.

        But I’d stopped a year ago Memorial Day, because trying to stay positive on top of daughter loss was suddenly impossible. I’m back to it now

        – and if you read the Sebastian Junger one, you’ll see his insistence on the ancient necessity for humans to be a Tribe. What disasters have taught me lately, including (successful hip op, with group we named The Caring Corps) is that there are many tribes. Your readers are your tribe. YOU not only nourish them — they/we nourish each other.

        Bridges of kindness and deep appreciation are spun by your words and your amazing images.

        I am tearful with gratitude for the privilege of being part of your tribe.

        And YES, though as a journalist since 9th grade, daughter of one, niece of Society Editor of Toledo Blade, granddaughter of one — so this loss is grievous — your blog and other blogs may be the journalism of today.

        Your words and these connections are catalyzing and intensifying loving connection within and beyond our TRIBE.

        Gratefully, Carolyn-of-New-Jersey

        • Carolyn, and your words too bring me enormous encouragement. Sometimes it is hard to keep going as if everything is normal which it is not. Sometimes I think we just want to curl up on the sofa with a good book and forget the real world exists. But comments like yours reassure me that this blog is needed and wanted and it fuels me with resolve to try harder and do more. Thank you so much, please stay safe and take very great care. Susan xx

  • Why people became so selfish? It’s the prosperity which makes them greedy and arrogant…..
    Susan, I am sorry to hear that message from you but I also believe that you and Roddy are strong and confident enough to go through these days and you are not alone. The entire world will change perceptible but first we must dive before we climb the mountain. A hard experience but a necessary one. Stay all healthy. Best wishes from Spain

  • Susan, you are front and centre in my thoughts – because you are in France and because I know you have worked so hard to build the business you have and now this beastly pandemic has punched you in the guts. As ever, you think of others and that shines out of this heart-breaking post. But it is not selfish to think of your own. In fact, in this life, we do well to be somewhat selfish because in looking after ourselves and our own, teaching our own to do the same whilst simultaneously helping those that need it which I know is your attitude, we are living the best of lives. This moment feels bleak. This moment feels unreal. This moment feels like a crushing weight on the shoulders of most. But this too shall pass. And my hope is that out of the ashes of this catastrophe will emerge a new attitude of cooperation, decency and kindness. People need only look to you for that example. Bon courage ma belle amie – tu es dans mes pensées toujours xx

    • This is a wonderful comment, virtual prayer. I honor its author,

      I second it for our amazing author/hostess/parent/citizen as well as for all who turn to her words and images for delight when we cannot be in France:

      “And my hope is that out of the ashes of this catastrophe will emerge a new attitude of cooperation, decency and kindness. People need only look to you for that example. Bon courage ma belle amie – tu es dans mes pensées toujours xx”

      I extend these wishes to every country on our planet.

      Carolyn Foote Edelmann Lawrenceville NJ ‘U’SA

      • Carolyn, that is a lovely comment on my comment. I’m in Massachusetts and I send you my very warmest wishes down the coast. In terms of what I said, I simply speak as I find. This horrible reality we are all grappling with needs strong, kind voices and Susan has just that. Thank you so much for highlighting what I said – words, in this instance, came easily 💫

        • I so appreciate your reaching out, Osyth. France is my heart’s home; and, in this country, this has always been true of Massachusetts.

          First, lengthening limpid summers at Harding’s Beach in Chatham, and birding at Monomoy… Then discovering and spending key lengths of time in the Berkshires. My two traveling buddies, Carolyn Yoder and Jeanette Hooban, and I, have a reservation in June for Wellfleet — a new place for us to stay, though not to visit. We wonder…

          When this crisis erupted, I realized, if I could be anywhere in the world to endure it, our little grey shingled cottage right on Nantucket Sound in Chatham would be it. Not EVEN FRANCE, for all my passion for that land so long as I have lived.

          A huge part of our love for Chatham was the wonderful people who lived there. We were the only renters in Hardings Beach Shores, and yet all the residents treated us as neighbors. There were even yearly clambakes, as the Indians did them, in our beach, that took all day right out in front of us, and we were welcomed.

          I KEEP WISHING that this dire global tragedy could bring back neighborliness. Our French Oasis hostess treats us like neighbors – and we know she would be wondrous, should we be able to visit there. I want to lift these agonies from everyone – and cannot even banish them from myself.

          I’m going to be radical and say that this worldwide nightmare, at base, is the opportunity for love.

          So appreciate your connection. You make me think I should begin my NJWILDBEAUTY Nature Blog again. People NEED Nature now, as never before. Massachusetts has some of the best. And our beloved France… cfe

          • What a lovely lovely comment and what a lovely connection we share. Nantucket sound is such a special place. I live due west of Boston by about 40 minutes (or 20 with the empty roads we have right now). I moved here in permanence and clutching my precious Green Card in April of 2018. I miss France terribly and we intend to retire back there but who knows what this present crisis will bring in terms of plans being hastily revisited. There is so much to love here. The light is so special – hardly surprising that the existentialists set up their commune just down the road in the 19th Century. The coastline is stunning. Chatham is a very very special place. My stepson lives in NJ, by the way. Small world it is. But what really strikes me as a kismet in finding you or you finding me or Susan finding us both – whatever it is, what strikes me is that when I popped over to your blog I noticed that you stopped around the same moment as I did. So let’s make a deal. Yours is lovely and just what is needed in this dreadful moment we are sharing. So please do start again (actually I notice a post in my reader this morning so I will correct that to please keep the posts coming). And I will start again too. I really don’t know if my drivel will offer much to anyone but I do miss the writing and having been in a rather dark despair for many moons I am fortunate to be feeling bright and spry once more and able to write again. My main message to everyone is that it turns out all we need really IS love. I’m glad you share my hope that the world will embrace that truth now and that we can move forward enriched by this terrible experience and the wiser too.

    • Hello! First and foremost I emailed you and I want to check that you got it ok. No need to reply at length just a word would reassure me that all is well. And secondly, I too hope that after this is over the world will be a better place, I hope people will learn a vital lesson, I hope they will appreciate more and take far less for granted. We have to remain positive. Huge hugs xx

      • Susan, I have no email from you. But I will email you and in the meantime – all is well. Thank you for being such a dear soul. Now let’s link arms across the ocean and be positive sisters together. I send you hugs just as huge back xx

        • with the two of you, and all who read Our French Oasis – in this global crisis.
          Susan, you hearten me, as I work on a Delaware River Project for D&R Greenway, for TravelStorys, app on phones teaches walkers about historic sites, as people are taught in museums at certain paintings. Nothing I’d rather do!
          Osyth, I know your missions and mine are curiously, almost fiercely allied.
          As I’ve written elsewhere, community is the outcome of Our French Oasis, and may well be the gift in this global crisis. May we learn to create and sustain our Tribes – as Sebastian Junger explains – so vital to all humans from prehistoric times. May the world be remarkably, sustainably better after this ordeal.
          Trusting that you will be protected, and all your dear ones, wherever you go, by day and by night – and wherever we don’t go! Smiles and gratitudes, Carolyn

          • Together, is how we will all get through this, I think by voicing our thoughts and realising that we are not alone, that others are going through exactly the same thing. Waking in the night, unable to sleep because we cannot calm our deepest most inner thoughts. But there will be better times ahead xx

          • Susan, thank you for all you do for all of us, in this impossible situation. I mean it that you strengthen me, hour by hour, as we tend, and reach out to our people about, D&R Greenway preserves. You personal courage, your knowing too well that two daughters are elsewhere and cannot be seen, let alone hugged — I empathize more than you know. You are a blessing. Know that your light shines far, wide and well! Carolyn Edelmann

          • Susan, the miracle of your life and your blog is that you are pouring LIGHT into this dark world, these dark times. I am increasingly convinced that this is our only purpose on earth. LIGHT. I am profoundly grateful to you for all that do all the time, and all that you communicate now. You are my Beacon. Thank you. Carolyn of Lawrenceville NJ

  • Bon courage. Over Here, shelves have been stripped, yet stores are restocking. All honor and wishes for good health to the grocery workers, the truckers, the post-people, the medical and first responders who are on the front lines of this. As others say, we will get through this, people are coming together, there is goodness and cooperation in the world (even if the politicians seem never to have heard the terms).
    *Anecdotally only*: A friend in California had what she thought was all the symptoms, but of course couldn’t get tested. She went through it, and today reported feeling better, fever broken, head no longer wanting to explode. So people are getting mild cases and recovering within a reasonable time.
    I am so very heartened and encouraged, reading the comments here.

    • I actually think, like so many others, that a great many people have either had or have it right now, and just thought it was a cold, a mild winter bug, because it is the season for this still and we must also remember that it is still much easier to catch a common cold than covid-19. But that said if everyone remains vigilant, if everyone does as they are told then we will all get through this. And yes, hopefully the world will be a better place, hopefully there will be more world cooperation. I hope also there will be less greediness and more appreciation, but who knows. Stay safe xx

  • I feel like we have been on such a roller coaster in the States for so long – Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – and now this.

    Our family in England share stories of mandatory confinement. Our niece there is a surgeon and confesses concern for her own safety, not to mention her patients.

    I am ‘working from home’ – a new experience. But, at least that is an option. All of our clients are in the same situation.

    As I write this the evening news is on. A local micro-brewery has stopped making spirits and is making hand sanitizer (70 percent alcohol, 30 percent aloe) and are giving it away. Bravo them! Stores here (Atlanta) have been pretty well stripped of health related products.

    I’ll end this ramble with a sincere wish for the health and safety of all. Please know you are in our thoughts. I look forward to each post and am grateful you are willing to share. I’m ready for this wave to crest so we can be on the other side. Hopefully to an even better future.

    • I love the hand sanitiser story, good for them, such a lovely heart warming story. We will all get through this together, I too feel for your poor niece, the NHS is going to be quite overwhelmed as are so many health systems around the world. I was heartened to read that after France had sent health supplies to China back in January that China was now returning the favour. Perhaps there is hope that a better world will emerge after all of this. Stay safe xx

  • So, I am not the ONLY one who felt that Mr. Toad leapt out of fiction into impossible reality! i share your sincere wishes for the health and safety of all. I share everyone’s wish that we learn from this that we are, indeed, our ‘brother’s,’ our ‘sister’s’ keepers. “Lo what ye do to the least of these, ye do unto me,” comes to mind when people are cruel in this crisis. I rejoice for every ‘random act of kindness’ and the singing of Italians in the face of disaster. I read that France sent medical supplies to China in her throes. And that now China – having had one day without a new case – sends medical necessities to France. If only we could become and STAY a better world, as we did for 9/11…. Blessings to all, Carolyn Foote Edelmann Lawrenceville, NJ ‘U’SA.

  • Thank you Susan for your heartfelt words and the truthfulness of those words. You and your family have worked so hard to establish your business and fix up your property with your own hands and ingenuity.
    We are all, worldwide, filled with fear and anxiety about this pandemic.

    I have rationed my husband and myself to one egg a day and a piece of toast or muffin for breakfast. And then I think of all the WW2 books that i have read and I am grateful that i am not being bombed or shot at or worse.

    We can tighten our belts and binge watch movies or read all day and ride our bikes for mental sanity because we live in the suburbs, but I worry for the people who are still working or living in urban areas. And I worry for the people who have been fired or laid off and now have no income.

    I must say that it is unbelievable to me that people are hoarding food and paper products. Where are their minds, they are so selfish, incredible.

    if we all stay sensible and considerate, there are plenty of supplies for all at the grocery store. Well, maybe not clorox wipes.

    Do not despair, this too shall pass.
    My prayers are being sent to you and your family. Patty

    • Patty, I’m sure Susan relishes the depth of connection in your comment, as do I — though we do not actually know one another. Susan’s blog inspired me to re-launch my NJWILDBEAUTY, a blog on the oft-mocked state of New Jersey, which holds such natural richesse! Even if you google NJ nature blog, you’ll get it, and could follow it. The first two, and maybe all, are triggered by the plague that has descended upon our planet. Last night’s lists good deeds catalyzed by our crisis. Ironically, isn’t it the Chinese who have the same symbol for crisis and opportunity? You and Susan and I know that people are basically honorable. I guess it’s up to us to report the blessings, and not wallow in our shock at the cruelties, even in high places. I guess it’s up to us to live the good. With you and Susan in spirit. Carolyn Foote Edelmann, Lawrenceville NJ https://njwildbeauty.wordpress.com/

    • Here in France, President Macron has said we are at war, but with an invisible enemy. We are indeed at war but as you say, and as I have told the children, we are not at risk of being bombed, or worse. We can get through this by remaining positive and staying as safe as possible. I can tighten our belts, we can do without the luxuries in life, we don’t need those things anyway. Perhaps a simpler life will be chosen by more people as a result. I wish I could give you some eggs, we are overrun!

      Stay safe and big hugs xx

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