The Ins and Outs of Deconfinement

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It’s a bit of a tricky one this deconfinement. In fact in many ways I think I am finding it harder to navigate than when we were in ‘lockdown’. So much is now left to personal choice and the actions of other people, parameters which we cannot to a large extent control. We are no longer in control. France it seems is divided in two – on one side we have those who have little intention of changing anything, who are staying put (we’re in this camp) and I call us the ‘ins’ and on the other we have those who now believe we are free and back to normal; I call these the ‘outs’. For them, life is once again awash with parties (maximum ten people, though), socialising, shopping, and visiting friends. 

The ‘ins’ tend to be the ones who wear masks, use gallons of hand sanitiser and stick to a good metre or more apart at all times. The ‘outs’ are for the most part those without any protective face covering, walking close to others without a care in the world. I’ve watched the French news, and I’ve talked to friends living in cities; apparently the number of people in the ‘out’ camp crowding together in packed streets, enjoying shopping once more are very numerous and far out number the mask-wearing cautious few. It’s a very difficult road we now find ourselves traversing.

I find I am far more worried than I was in confinement. We have to make decisions again, and in many ways it was so much easier before; then there were set rules and we followed them. Now we weave our way forward down what I am sure is going to be a very long and winding road. But these roads have seen much worse, and we will come out the other side and once again all enjoy our freedom.

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On a positive note I have loved being able to cycle again. It was a forbidden pastime during ‘lockdown’ but it feels so good now to pedal down country lanes with the kids; we’ve been further on two wheels in the past week than we have been in the car in two months. Discovering houses for sale is a growing pastime and there are soon going to be quite a few coming on the market.

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Once again we’ve explored neighbouring villages, finding that spring has almost passed us by without us noticing; somehow we’ve missed an entire chapter in our book of seasonal life.

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The poppies have sprung up out of nowhere, and fields of red suddenly surround us. I loved seeing an elderly couple tending their vegetables, a little patch in amongst the fields. They must have both been in their 80’s, their bikes propped up against a fence.

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Flowers adorn every hedgerow, too. Spring is magical in this part of France and at least we’re catching the tail end of it.

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And on our travels I’ve noticed that amongst the beautifully tended gardens and the thriving potagers more and more people are choosing to leave large areas of lawn unmown with just a winding path cut through the middle. More and more people are becoming aware of our planet that we live on and how we can make a difference.

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However, socialising? Well, that’s a whole different story. We’re not prepared to jump that hurdle yet, it just feels too soon. We want to know what the consequences of this new ‘almost free’ France will be before we take those next steps back to normality.

I do know that it is very much an individual thing and it also depends so much on each person’s situation. If you live alone, being able to meet friends once more could well be a lifeline. We are incredibly fortunate; sure we’ve lost 90% of our income, but we do have three of our children at home and we have each other. There are five of us, so mealtimes are never quiet. The kids are young adults really; the three here are 18, 15 and 13, and they love nothing more than a lively conversation; if there’s a good debate they will stand their ground when they think they are right (which they often are, but shhhh, I didn’t  say that!) and eloquently argue their cases. A romantic meal for two will just have to be at home, we’ll wander over to the guest cottage, it will feel like going out!

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One thing we have certainly learnt is to appreciate the French culture once more. For two months our shopping has been pretty much only the supermarket drive-through to collect our online order, with the very occasional trip to the green grocer. Supermarkets have their place without a doubt, but how we miss the conviviality of a trip to our boulangerie, and the weekly market, including those conversations with the stall holders that know us well and offer suggestions. That is all so much a part of French life and we miss it so much.

This really hit home when Roddy went to a specialist cheese shop in Rochefort on Friday. Not to buy cheese, (personally we’re not out shopping yet) but actually to collect a package that had been left there, as they also act as a delivery point for some larger French parcels. This Point Relais – as it is called – almost halves the cost of regular mailing prices and is very popular here. Naturally whilst there he bought a couple of delicious cheeses. He went late deliberately, just before closing at around 7.15pm, knowing there would be no one in there, and he was right, he was the only client. He wore his mask, and he chatted away to the owner, nothing was hurried, and he left promising to return; it had been more than just a trip to collect a box. It had been a wonderful, fulfilling and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Exactly what living here is meant to be all about. But sometimes I think life gets so busy that we forget.

Perhaps this is the lesson we will take with us from all of this, to remember to slow down and appreciate our life just a little more! Have faith my friends, we will get through this, we will meet all of the people who were meant to journey to France this year, life will get back to a new normal.  We just have to stay strong, stay safe and support one another.  xx

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28 thoughts on “The Ins and Outs of Deconfinement

  • In Nice on Monday I was a bit disconcerted to see only about 50% wearing masks and at least half of those weren’t wearing them correctly. On Friday, the traffic seemed to be almost as much as before lockdown but by the weekend reason seemed to have returned with pretty much everyone wearing masks and observing distancing. Of course, I can’t speak for other areas in France. I think it’s helped that the weather’s not been great this week though that’ll change next week. I agree though that this week has felt rather strange though being able to ride my bike has definitely been the best bit.

  • Beautiful photos of lovely buildings and nature. You and your family are adjusting well…..loved the story about the visit
    to the fromager!! Also the photo of the cross, the deodora cedar. climbing rose, and cannas.

  • The weather has been wonderful, a little too warm, but all will take it in with deep breaths, longer walks and probably some angst, We still are cautious, wear masks and buy overpriced sanitizers but so many are not as fortunate as we.

  • We are still in the midst of our lockdown here in South Africa as our coronavirus numbers are rising rapidly and will get a lot worse before they start easing up. I am glad that France and Italy (where I also have relatives) are starting to “unlock”, but I can understand how strange it must feel after all these weeks, and I think I would err on the side of caution like you do- wear a mask when out, keep your social distance, and wash hands frequently. This virus is very real and has taken away many lives, so I find it hard to understand those who feel that it’s all over. In the meanwhile enjoy what’s left of spring and your rides in the countryside. I think we are all much more appreciative of nature and the simple things in life for which I am grateful. Thank you as always for your lovely post and photos. PS I will always remember the colourful and cheerful fields of poppies when I visited Provence many years ago.

    • I really do identify with your feelings of increased anxiety caused by the déconfinement. Its reassuring to know that I’m not the only one. It’s been good this week to be able to go out further into the countryside and enjoy the vistas as a change from our lovely river, but I worry about how to deal with friends’ invitations to dinner (which seem too soon to me) without appearing ungrateful or even judgemental. Just be truthful and sincere I guess. Bon courage.

  • I have a good friend living in rural France- he doesn’t want the lockdown to end- he’s worried about the ‘2nd wave’. So yes, stay home & safe! We are easing restrictions here in Australia but have had so little troubles with the virus compared to Europe… what a weird tragic year is 2020 😞

  • I never tire of looking at beautiful pictures of the French country side. Many of the houses and buildings you photographed appear to be abandoned. Are they for sale, or do you know? Thank you for the lovely post, Susan.

  • Yes, this lock down is getting to be difficult, but some of the restrictions here in Northern California are beginning to loosen. So many of the building you photographed seem to be abandoned. Are they for sale, or do you know? Thank you for the lovely post, Susan.

  • I understand how you feel. Me too. Living on an island everyone has been so careful and responsible. On a trip to the mainland to get my flu shot ( I am in my 70’s) I was amazed at the number of people not practicing social distancing. Will be home for a bit longer yet.

  • Hi Susan. Thank you for another inspiring glimpse of your family and life in the beautiful countryside of France.
    Here on the coast of Central California we are faced with a similar dilemma as our lockdown eases. We are in the “keep staying in” group, yet our area is flooded by groups of maskless tourists crowding our little towns that have been so careful to “follow the rules.” It is quite unnerving. I find comfort as you do in our 2 kitties and German Shepard Dog as well as a garden full of roses and sweet peas. Wish you continued good health and peace. And as always I look forward to your next blog…

  • Second wave August then !
    Sit tight 😴 paul

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  • I’m with you–in the “in” camp. I did do a visit to a friend today and we sat 6 feet apart in the garden and talked–It was lovely. I’ve mostly just been going for groceries every two weeks and working in the garden. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I needed to keep children safe. Good luck with deciding when to open up. It’s at least a month off where I am. And spring is so lovely here and where you are. I know you will let that beauty crash in and wash over you. We all need it now.

  • Stay safe as you navigate the muddied waters of the new normal. I’m also with the in’s and pray the outs come to their senses if not for others, for themselves and their families. Future lives very well may depend on it. Stay safe, keep smiling and sharing fabulous images of French life.

  • Susan dearHeart – writing from faraway Australia and under slightly different circumstances, you have no idea how your words resonate with me ! Oh, I am very much an ‘in’ person also . . . and presently I am afraid. I hope to God I shall be proven wrong but I am so afraid of the second wave – being medically trained to me that is almost inevitable unless each and every person understands how this devilish virus works, how just one foolish or ignorant person can start a new cluster which may not be able to be contained. But neither here nor there are all people wise until in trouble themselves,

    We were amongst the first to be affected, amongst the first to be locked down. Police were and are heavily involved, including mounted police. Our wonderful army came to make up numbers. Test kits and other medical equipment was ordered post-haste, huge numbers of retired nurses and doctors called back into possible service and trained for IC work. Thousand and five thousand dollar fines could be handed out on the spot for breaching rules. All state borders were closed and remain so. Over 41 Sydney hotels became the place every person landing in Australia was forced to stay for the mandatory 1q5 days. Police patrolling the corridors 24/7. And, looking at the number of deaths in Europe and the Americas there was nary a murmur . . . we felt safe. For the WHOLE continent we are just coming up to our 100th death with over a million tests done. But economics and many people’s mental state issues are leading to the loosening of laws here also, each state quite differently . . . and now I am afraid. I know we are supposedly ready, but . . . so I understand each word you have written and hope for France and hope for us here. . . *smile* one thing we were never stopped doing was exercising outdoors – running, biking, swimming & surfing usually . . . well, sports-crazy Australia . . . . love and best and enjoy your family and beautiful nature around you . . .

  • I really do identify with your feelings of increased anxiety caused by the déconfinement. Its reassuring to know that I’m not the only one. It’s been good this week to be able to go out further into the countryside and enjoy the vistas as a change from our lovely river, but I worry about how to deal with friends’ invitations to dinner (which seem too soon to me) without appearing ungrateful or even judgemental. Just be truthful and sincere I guess. Bon courage.

  • Hi Susan,
    We are definitely ‘in’ people although we did have a barbecue for our daughter yesterday with her family so only six of us and we have all been at home for the past 8 weeks. Lots of people are apparently growing their own vegetables again, we are in this camp but we weren’t going to do it this year as we were supposed to be over there. Amazingly there are still people who do not understand ‘social distancing’ and going to the shops last Friday was an exercise in high anxiety. We decided to put it off for as long as possible. Not ready to take it on yet. Masks are hit and miss from what I have seen when out walking and the vast majority were not wearing them correctly, oh well. As mentioned it will only take one person for a second wave to happen and then all we have been through will be threatened and so far Australians have been on the whole quite good but that can change overnight. Stay safe and well, enjoy your bike ride adventures.

  • A lovely, reflective blog. Here in Australia, the threat is not quite as real as in France. But nevertheless, I hear you on the differences in behaviour! Basically we all just have to choose our own paths, even at the risk of seeming rude/unsociable. It’s certainly weird times.

    Your photos are so picturesque… so European too. I feel deeply the romance of those charming old buildings. We Aussies are starved of that kind of history.

  • We are in the same camp, I just do not trust others to help keep us all safe. Too many are going out without masks, not observing distance. They will be the first to get sick in a new wave if it comes, and I’ll stay home for a while longer. I know what you mean about just having a conversation, I’ve been meeting friends in my own driveway, at a safe distance, just to chat for a while. It does bring home how precious our friendships are, and how much we need to have social interactions even at a distance and wearing a mask. Thank you for the lovely photos of your beautiful part of the world.

  • It is interesting to hear news from around the world. We are opening up here in the US and I am one that thinks it is too early. And here, not everyone will wear a mask. I am in a good place in life with this virus, as we are retired and have no elderly relatives or babies in the family. Our children have stayed employed. We plan to continue to be cautious and only go out for food, wearing our masks and gloves while waiting for a vaccine or pharmaceutical.

  • I believe this kind of sunshine is hard to miss, ever since the epidemic started to spread I have contemplated sitting in the sunshine and now I have finally done it. All talk of France and the french riviera is now more distant giving me the chance to get out and enjoy the glorious rays, what could of been an augmented planned train or plane journey is now looking to hold something more certain with people getting involved in a more organised way of doing things. Like adults taking over what should be theres, supermarkets displaying an empty self or two, car parks not being bursting with angry traffic and of course empty pubs being told to hand in the towel.

  • I/we share your concerns, Susan, and are “in” people as well. We go out to walk (me) and cycle (my husband) and grocery shop or shop at the hardware store. I shop for my parents who at 91 and 90 are at much higher risk than we and I want them to stay home. People in Arizona have had a much more cavalier attitude about the virus than I would have expected or liked, many not wearing masks or gathering in groups. Now that restrictions are easing, we wait to see what will happen although some expected things have happened, such as crowds in now open bars. We’ll be keeping to our mostly in routine, my husband already working at home and me with plenty to do after the move, organizing files/photos/other things, etc. I do want to get out and go on some trails but I would do that during the week when there will be less people. I’ve also visited a local olive mill for olives and other goodies (on the blog today) and that’s been fun as well.

    Thanks for sharing the photos of the beautiful flowers and that last lovely shot. Stay well!

    janet

  • I can identify with your feelings about being out and about and socializing with friends. There’s nothing wrong with being cautious, but it does feel good to be able to make decisions about what we choose to do. I love your photos of houses and poppies. It’s refreshing to see that the France you know is still beautiful and mostly unchanged.

  • We are still in the ‘in’ camp too. The slightest whiff of lockdown lifted and neighbours have all sorts of visitors and spending days out shopping. We have the food delivered or go the the farm shop first thing and walk the dogs at 6.30am to avoid the chance of meeting people. Working from home and living there is a bit ground hog day but we’d rather be safe.

  • Enjoyed your pictures as always. I love the old buildings & would want to see the other side of those gates! We have had so much rain & it is still raining so now we have flooding in some areas. Still wearing masks but some places are opening up. I still intend to be careful but have asthma & cannot stay long in the grocery as cannot breathe! I won’t complain though as long as everyone is well. Take care & stay well!!

  • We are “in” people, too, but here in our part of Texas, wearing a mask is beginning to be considered unpatriotic and a mark of the “sheeple” who are cowards and against our president. Not wearing a mask is a mark of freedom, rejection of fear, and a display of patriotism. At the infusion clinic that is a necessity for me and all the people having infusions, one mask-less patient (why was he even allowed in the infusion room?) spoke harshly to the doctor when the masked doctor backed away from the man’s extended hand and said, “I can’t do that today.” We were a roomful of seven or eight (socially distanced) persons all receiving infusions to knock back our overactive immune systems, making us deliberately immuno-compromised so that we can continue to function. I wasn’t worried before, because we knew what to do. We still know what’s the best choice for us, but people have begun deliberately violating social distancing and closely approaching me when I’m walking the dog, even as I’m backing away, saying, “I’m backing away. I’m immuno-compromised.” Most of our close friends and one neighbor are doing the same thing we’re doing, and people in our neighborhood are kind and helpful, even if sort of shaking their heads over our silliness as they plan barbecues, pool parties, etc. But it’s beginning to feel different elsewhere as we try to simply keep ourselves safe. My husband, needing a cane to walk, donned a mask two days ago to drop something into an outside depository. I watched from the car as another man stopped and turned and stared at him while my husband stared back at him. What’s next when a society stops being protective of its older or vulnerable populations?

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