Expectations, And Reality
You know those Memes that go around on the internet that show two side-by-side pics, one of which is “expectation” and the other “reality”? Well, this past week was kinda like that for us, thanks to good ‘ol Mother Nature.
We had plans, grand plans of flying off into the wilderness and exploring the big, wide world outside….
France: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Wheelingit crew. Our mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and post-confinement civilizations….
And then the rain came.
Oceans of it, pouring down in sheets of unending wetness, with nothing but grey skies above and muddy trails beneath. There was really not much to do but wait out the weather from home, the very place we’ve been confined to for the past 2 months. Oh well, at least we’re used to it?
But we did manage a few walks, in-between the raindrops, plus quite a bit of weeding (which is rather the norm this time of year) and rather importantly, a key birthday was celebrated, one that we weren’t sure we’d see just a few years ago. Expectation and reality sometimes go your way too.
Nothing Is Like It Was
So yes of course the big news this week was our new-found freedom of being able to go outside our 1 km quarantine circle, without any paperwork to justify it. And to be honest, it was a strange sensation.
Remember that feeling you used to get when you snuck out of the house at night as a teenager (not that I ever did anything like that….that my parents know of anyway…)? It was kinda like that. After weeks of having to carry ID and paperwork just to walk down the street it felt odd, and not-quite-legal to be able waltz out the door with nothing at all. Plus I kept looking out for police checks, and felt a tad jittery that I wasn’t carrying any justification on me.
The surprising thing is it didn’t feel natural, and that was something I hadn’t expected at all.
I guess that in my minds eye I had imagined that going out this week would feel normal, like it did before this whole lock-down madness began. And the truth is that it really didn’t. In some ways it makes sense. Things haven’t changed just because an arbitrary date has passed and a few restrictions have been lifted, so why should anything feel different? And yet in other ways, the whole thing makes no sense at all. Surely everything should feel freer now?
But it’s obvious when you go out…
Most of the French population wears masks now, something that would be unthinkable just a few months ago. This is a country where full-face coverings are illegal (the controversial “burka ban” law that was enacted in 2011). And yet now, face coverings have become the norm.
“Highly illogical” as Spock would say
And although most stores are open now, every place has strict new virus security measures in place.
For example, Paul went down to get a new battery for dad’s car this week (which went flat just around 2 months ago, go figure) and the local auto-supply shop had been completely re-vamped for the May 11th opening. Everyone was wearing face-masks, the checkout was behind Plexiglas and payment was conducted via “contact-less” credit card (a feature all French cards have these days).
Plus of course dad and I attended the local outdoor market, as we usually do, and it was really no different to the week before. The market was roped-off to a specific area of town with police at the entrance/exit, one-way foot traffic (no-one allowed to double back) and stalls spaced at least 10-20 feet apart. The only real change was that a few extra stalls had been added, specifically for hot food, but other than that it felt just like it did during confinement.
The reality is that nothing is like it was before, and likely won’t be for some time…
Maybe Summer Vacations Will Change Too?
The other big “reality check” going on in France at the moment are the upcoming summer vacays, and speculations on exactly what they will look like.
Right now everything tourist-related is still closed including restaurants, campgrounds, and hotels, but there’s hope that stuff will start opening during the next stage of “déconfinement” starting June 2nd. Borders may take a little while longer, but most of the EU is looking to ease up inter-border travel, at least between neighboring European nations by ~mid-June. So by the swing of summer most stuff should be accessible, assuming the virus numbers stay in check.
But folks are still super wary….
From the chatter that I’ve been seeing on my travel & RV forums, most people are saying they will stay closer to home this year, just in case things change yet again. So the French are declaring they will vacay in France, while Brits are saying they will stay home in UK, and so on. It’s across the board, and it’s almost a point of national pride.
Perhaps local tourism will be the big thing of 2020??
As for us we really have no idea what we’re going to do. We don’t relish the idea of packing into a French campground with the summer crowds, nor do we really want to RV in the heat (last summer got HOT here and although we have a rooftop AC in LMB, camping in the heat is still not our idea of fun). On the other hand, traveling cross borders is still a very big unknown.
In the meantime LMB is looking rather lost and lonely. I guess we’ll just have to wait and play it by ear?
We Are Celebrating Anyway
On the other side of the coin, the “good news story” of this past week was that my dear dad got a year older, or a year wiser as he likes to say.
When we came to France several years back, dad was just embarking on his third lifetime battle with cancer, and as you can imagine we weren’t at all sure how that would go. That was a loooong year, with lots of medical appointments, waiting, scans, waiting, scans and more waiting (isn’t waiting the worst, when it comes to the big C???), but like the powerhouse he is, he pulled through, yet again. Great doctors, incredible healthcare, good wine, local food and daily walks were apparently the magic combo that worked.
And so another was battle won, and another few years were put in the bank.
So on Friday we celebrated his day, complete with roasted duck breast (what else, in SW France?), pommes dauphinoise (basically layers of sliced potatoes baked with onion, garlic & cream…which you know is crazy good) and a home-made chocolate-base tiramisu. Here’s hoping next year will be just as sweet….
And The Sun Is Out Again
And then today, just this morning, the weather turned yet again. Like a flower bud springing open for the first time, the sun burst through the clouds and bathed the rolling hills in warm, beautiful light.
We took the dog down to our local lake, something we haven’t done since confinement began back in mid-March and it was oh-so-deliciously nice. The lake was empty and the grass several feet tall (no-one’s been mowing), but it was bordered by thick beds of wildflowers and alive with ducks, frogs, and insects and the incredible song that they all make when they come together. A light breeze, warm rays, and the melody of nature all around us. What could be better?
It felt both freeing, and totally right.
So yes, lots of expectations this week and although not all were met, some good ones came to be, a key birthday was celebrated, and we did finally get to hike in some place other than our little 1 km circle. I call that a win.
I’m curious my dear blog readers, for your thoughts about this upcoming summer? Has the virus changed your plans? Are you staying local? Or traveling abroad? Do share in the comments below!
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