Life Within, And Building Anew
For hvert et tab ingen erstatning findes
Hvad udad tabes, det skal indad vindes
(For every loss there is no compensation
What is lost externally must be won internally)
H.P. Holst, Denmark, Koebenhavn 1872
Another week, and autumn draws on.
It’s misty in the mornings here now, with pillows of white clouds that blanket the valley before sunrise and disperse slowly to the sky as the light spreads. We always walk Polly right after breakfast so we can absorb all that moodiness, basking in the beauty that is nature at rest. It’s good for the soul, and that’s something that’s been weighing strongly on my mind all week.
We are living in complex times that are not likely to ease up anytime soon. We’re on the cusp of winter and flu season, with holidays around the corner, COVID cases rising all over, and Europe starting to implement new restrictions again. Over the next few months, as folks move their lives indoors again, all that is likely to get worse. Then there’s the up-coming election in the US (not likely to go smoothly IMO), Brexit in the UK (another rough ride), and just general uncertainty all around. In some areas it’s déjà vu from March, in others it’s a whole new mess of concerns.
I think about all these things as we walk our little back-country roads in the morning, wondering how it will all work out, how we will manage the winter, when or if things will ever get back to “normal”. But then a few days ago, as I was basking in the goodness of that morning walk I had a completely different and rather radical switch in thoughts….
What if happiness is simply accepting things as they are?
It was a new thought for me, even though it’s a theme as old as time. Finding peace in “the now” is the very thing every Buddhist monk, every eremite, every soul-seeker has always preached. And when things are going well, it’s effortless. When we were traveling and able to immerse ourselves with family, friends and nature whenever we felt like it, I was at peace. But when things got more difficult, when we became isolated from friends and restricted in movement and environment (basically the story of 2020), I lost that feeling.
And yet, it all lies within….
It’s a simple thought, a naïve one perhaps, but also very powerful especially in these times. We must all re-build from within now, accepting the situation as it is is, letting go of what was before so we can find new “norms” and new ways forward. This does not mean that we give up our hope and dreams for the future, but simply that we must let go of our nostalgia of the past so that we can move forward. It’s the fifth stage of grief, acceptance before change. I guess I’m just feeling it now.
This is life now, make of the most of it.
Ah yes, these misty morning walks have me going deep, as I seem to be doing more and more often these days (I do apologize, my dear readers!). But such is life. So this week that’s what I’ve got to share; our daily lives in our little SW French hamlet, with just the three of us and Polly, chugging along with the practicalities of our ever-changing environment, and trying to make the most of it. Building happiness from within, or re-building….at least that’s the general idea.
COVID & Curfews
On a practical side, the biggest upheaval in France this week has been the announcement of curfews to try and curb our ever-increasing COVID-19 infections.
As of yesterday, in 9 major cities (Paris & surrounding areas, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint-Etienne, Rouen, Montpellier and Toulouse) no-one will be allowed outside from 9pm to 6am without special exception. The curfew will continue for the next 4 weeks, affecting around 19 million people and countless businesses (especially restaurants and bars). Those who don’t comply will be fined. As you can imagine, people are not happy….
In French it’s called couvre-feu, which literally translates to “cover fire”. Rather apt I guess, as it kinda feels like we’re trying to stamp out the flames of a virus that’s gone out of control. Unfortunately, much like an out-of-control fire, I’m not clear it’s going to do all that much to change the numbers. I guess the government however, felt they had to do something.
Cases, infection rates and hospitalizations have continued to rise steadily since the summer vacays, slowly but surely. All of this was expected, and IMO wouldn’t really be that concerning, as long as death rates remain low and folks continue to recover. A steady state of people in, people out kinda thing. But one critical stat has changed in the last month. ICU beds are steadily filling up with almost 30% now taken up by COVID-19 patients, a jump since the beginning of September. With winter around the corner, and flu season on its way, that’s what’s causing this latest inquiétude (worry) and freaking everyone out. And rightly so.
So will a curfew in the big cities change things?
Admittedly I’m not convinced. The idea is based on a study from Institut Pasteur that showed R0 (infection reproduction) values in French Guiana decreasing based on curfew. That and the fact that the virus is circulating most strongly in the younger population (which is true), where late night shenanigans and relaxed controls are thought to be a strong factor in transmission.
I hope they’re right of course, because no-one wants to see full ICU beds or a hard lockdown again, but I just don’t know.
Of course in our area nothing has really changed. We’re far enough outside of Toulouse not to be involved. Not that we were exactly gallivanting around at night in big crowds anyway, but I guess (technically) we still can? So apart from a general mask mandate, and near-zero socializing or bises on the cheek (I really do miss those kisses), we’re just going about our business as usual. Onwards and forwards…
Chasse & Chocolates
The only other big change in our area is that we are in the very midst of the Chasse (or hunting season).
The Chasse actually started around mid-September, and will last until end of Feb or so next year, and it’s a big event in the countryside with over 1.2 million French dedicated to the sport (France has the largest numbers of licensed hunters in Europe, in fact). But it’s also mired in quite a bit of controversy. The hunting population is steadily getting older, and every year some poor fool or another manages to target a human instead of a beast (last season, 11 people died), leading to massive & passionate debates amongst the populous.
C’est un sujet sensible (it’s a sensitive topic)….
As guests in this country, we are naturally neutral on the issue and simply give the hunting dogs a wide berth while wearing high-visibility clothing. So Polly now sports a blindingly yellow 4LegsFriends reflective vest every time we go out walking. Of course her gilet jaune carries a whole different kind of political statement in France (one I didn’t think about until after I bought the vest, duh), but it works nonetheless. Moral of the story….if you plan to stroll in the countryside in France during the Chasse, make sure both you and your paws are wearing something highly visible.
Rather more up our alley, and definitely up for passionate discussion, are the up-coming chocolate sales.
As you know we enjoyed the foire au vins recently, the yearly countrywide wine sales where you can buy ridiculous amounts of wine for ridiculous prices. Rather ingeniously (or at least I think so) the French often follow this by a foire au chocolat where copious volumes of chocolate goodies go on sale everywhere. It all launches more or less in tandem with the Salon du Chocolat in Paris typically around the last week of October (not happening this year, but on my bucket list obviously), and will often stretch into November. I’m not sure exactly when our local supermarket will get the decadent goodies going, but it’s soon and I’ll be sure to let you know.
So in other words, we will shortly have wine AND chocolate in abundance. All part of the master plan to strategically enhance our protective fat layers for winter. Not bad, eh?
And So We Go On
Our plans these days are small ones. Walks and little outings in our area, saying hello to the neighbors when we pass, cuddling cats on the street, and enjoying the mountain views that we are so lucky to see everyday. It’s not a traveling life anymore, but it’s also not a bad life. Despite all the craziness in the world, we can build from here and perhaps find a whole new kind of calm. I could dig that.
How are you this week, my friends? Are you feeling the season change? Uncertainty, yet new things ahead? DO share your thoughts for the week. I always love to hear them.SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Linda Sand says
Forecasters are predicting snow in Minneapolis tomorrow. It looks like our currently beautiful autumn leaves are about to fall. I prefer a gentler changing of the seasons but we get what we get and somehow we all go on. Hopefully this will not be another year like the one with the Halloween Blizzard which pinned us all in our homes even more than this pandemic is doing. We survived that and we will survive this.
Larry Worsham says
Thank you for your thoughts. We are in Texas and the US is experiencing an increase in cases and hospitalizations but the death rate is declining. We have a mask mandate and most all are complying. The small businesses are really suffering and the debate currently is about bars reopening. People are getting numb due to the constant news reporting the latest daily stats and of course politics. The hodge podge of regulations through out the states makes traveling difficult so we are staying close to home and we worry about my 92 year old mother in Calif. who hasn’t been out of the house since March. I have accepted the situation we are in and fear that this virus has to and will run its course despite some/most of the precautions. We work at taking each day as it comes, take the proper individual precautions and do not worry what we can control. Our 4 legged friends have the right idea about life. We enjoy learning about France.
Accepting what is. Yes. This is the message I just don’t understand why people can not do it in the US. Just social distance and wear the mask for pete’s sake. You will be able to do the things down the road. Man, if we had to go through what Europe went through after WWII we would be in big trouble. People had to survive the depression in the US. What happened to us. We have become a bunch of spoiled children.
Mary Lou says
Another informative and thought provoking post. Filled with wisdom and beautiful photos. I look so forward to your newsletter. Until next time, stay strong. Stay safe.
Sue Malone says
Your thoughts rang a welcome chord this morning. We were actually able to take the MoHo to the mountains once again and camp at Medicine Lake, a place we treasure. It was silent and beautiful, with no one but us in the 5t site campground and the lake almost completely to ourselves. No phone, no internet, off grid except for the short trip down toward Lava Beds to view the fire damage. It was a respite, and yet I found myself unable to truly relax, still worried down deep about “stuff”. Such a waste of energy!! Today back at home the sun shines, the temperatures are not going to go over 80, there is no smoke, the fires are waning at last, and I am trying to appreciate every little gorgeous moment. Mo watches news, a lot of news. I offset that by trying to read. Both are really disconcerting for both of us for different reasons. I see my daughter and grandson who live nearby, and my friend and her husband a mile away. None of us have much to do with anyone or anything else. Our bubble is small, but I do know that the bubble could burst at any time with something crazy. I can’t imagine how our country looks to someone in a small village in France. This morning on the news, the numbers for France were showing and Mo asked me how you were doing. Good timing. I will tell her. I have no idea how things will turn out, but no matter how, I have a feeling it won’t be a good thing either way. That is a sad and disheartening thought and it colors my days. But speaking of chords, I pulled the piano out from under the bed, it is a gorgeous Technics, full 88 keys, and used birthday gift cards and Amazon prime to buy a badly needed new amp. I am playing again. I used to hate Bach, and yet now the rigidity of his compositions are a discipline that makes me focus. And puzzles. I’ll be pulling out puzzles again. Sorry for the long comment, Nina, but you asked, and for once I am reading on the computer where I can actually type a comment. You are a treasure to me, and I will always be grateful that not only do I know you from a distance, but got to see your sweet face in person and I am pretty sure that back then at Harris Beach we shared a hug and a cheek kiss. Thank you again, Nina, for words that take me away to something better.
Cynthia Blaylock says
We too are doing our best to enjoy the moment. Cooking a lot at home and gardening when it’s not too damn hot. I don’t believe masks work and there’s plenty of science to support that position, but I wear mine when I go out so as not to offend or make others anxious. It seems to me that those of us who are relatively healthy without co-morbidities need to be out and mingle and get IT and be done with it. Those who are compromised need to be more careful and take precautions. We are blessed to have lived in the same neighborhood for 17 years and have close friends who enjoy good food and wine so we socialize (carefully) together – rotating back yards. We’ve not taken any motorhome trips since June because our senior dog is on his last legs and I think traveling would be too difficult for him. So really, sticking close to home and just enjoying short walks is best for all of us now. Nina, your photos are beautiful.
I thank you for your gentle, kind reflections and stunning photos. Always makes me feel better in these crazy times. I wish you all well.
I love this comment! And totally agree! Without wishing to start a racial argument, I’m from UK and have noticed the attitude you refer to, in my American wife, and many other Americans.
I do fear a very rough time coming (a rougher ‘second wave’) but I guess I’m lucky that one advantage of being the miserable unfriendly so-and-so with no friends that I’ve always been, is that it’s not difficult for me to continue just keeping to myself, and try not to get too caught up and concerned about it all!
PS I just received a Jury Summons, for me always unwelcome, and notice they don’t give me any option to not-attend on health-concern grounds. I’m 67, and would rather do what everyone advises, stay away, stay safe, stay at home where I’m no threat to anyone, instead of being forced ‘by law’ to sit around for hours with hundreds of other coughing or wheezing individuals in some public-thronged court building…
Ooops just to clarify – this comment got ‘misfiled’ and was supposed to be in reply to Carolyn’s comment further up! Dave(‘n’Kim)
Sherry Fields says
Nina you share Such wise words…Be satisfied with the moment. I just wish others in my precious Commonwealth of KY would feel this way. I’m blessed to be retired and not have to go teach school in this mess. My heart is with our teachers as they try so hard to educate the young ones in all this chaos. So many in my state have politicized a virus. I finally had to just stop reading those types comments and get my mind in a better frame. We are ready for the winter. I plan on enjoying my wood burning pellet stove, cooking, and enjoying new wines. I’m blessed to have our daughters and their families close by. The grandchildren are our breath of sanity in all of this turmoil. I’ll leave you with a Namaste till your next blog post.
I’m struggling with being happy in the moment because I am so angry at these people who will not wear a mask, or distance, or who insist on going to the bars. Tucson is a college town and apparently college students no longer have any sense. It did not have to be this bad. It still doesn’t, if people would just wear the mask, case counts would come down. Arrrrrrgh. You’re really fortunate to be in such a beautiful place, I envy your location!
As Allison said I am angry . I am angry at the people who say, “oh, just get Covid and get it over with.”–that’s a risk I’m not willing to take! How long do those of us who are older or those with health issues have to isolate because people will not wear a mask. Our numbers in Montana are skyrocketing for our population. Our hospitals are full going into winter, the ICUs are full or almost full in our largest city. I can’t read the comments on any article about Covid–I get so angry. My dear husband asked me if I had read your latest blog and told me I should–you do provide calm in the storm Nina–thank you.
As always appreciate your thoughts and love the perspective of your beautiful new venue. We are still in the snowbird routine…on our way south with RV issues in southern Nevada Lake Mead…..beautiful views across the lake, yet so many issues to ponder. US election is the greatest in mind…hope it goes well and we peacefully get a change of administrations.
Best of luck in France as Covid seems to ramp Up
Koos de Heer says
Thank you for this post, I loved reading it and I always appreciate it when you go deep. No need to apologize. My husband is still working in Germany but the weekly commute is getting harder. So far we have always seen each other at least every weekend, but that may not be possible in the next few months. I am still teaching in the classroom and loving it. In March and April, I have taught classes online. It is doable, but in an online setting I really find it hard to go beyond lecturing. The exchange of ideas and concepts and making sense of it as a group is so much richer in the classroom. So I am dreading the moment we have to go back to online teaching again. My consulting is largely online, but sometimes I can arrange live meetings at a safe distance and I feel the mix of both is very productive.
I am worried about where this world is going. Your admonition to accept things the way they are came at the right moment. Sometimes I think we are just with too many humans on this planet. When there are too many of one species (as we also see in large scale farming), Mother Nature sends diseases and disasters to bring things back into balance. I think that is what happens and will continue to happen until we as a species find our humble place among the rest of creation again.
Bob McLean says
I’ve been back and forth this morning as to whether or not to say anything much at all. But here goes.
First of all, your efforts each week are duly appreciated. Possibly more than you realise. It doesn’t always have to be about where you go, etc.
We’re a fickle lot, we humans. We want the Pandemic to be “over with”. “Let just get sick and be done with it”.
Well, I can appreciate that “face it head on” kind of mentality but sadly, it’s ever so slightly flawed. I won’t get into what we know about the differences between say, H1N1 and the six different strains of Coronavirus, but let’s just say that your own DNA is the one thing that will determine just how sick you get, or whether you die or not.
The “Spanish Flu” took two years to get cleared up. We ain’t there yet. And it was an Influenza. It’s unfortunate that the government has to step in and tell us “what to do”, when common sense isn’t all that common. And in 1918, people had to be told to wear masks.
So, don’t feel so hard done by.
I don’t miss the “kissing”. It was something we were not overly comfortable with both when we lived in Puerto Rico, and later in first The Netherlands and then Austria. Oh the Austrians! Hand shakes and kissing all around! Gah! I like it when strangers stay the hell away from me!
We haven’t hugged our kids in six months, but we still see them, from a safe distance, so I’m not about to go running in the streets waving ridiculous signs like, “I need a haircut”. Seriously? If nothing else, the Pandemic has shown us the depth of ridiculousness to which so called “normal” people will sink.
So, just take comfort in the availability of cheap wine and an abundance of chocolate. There’s no down side. In my humble opinion, of course.
Dolores Tanner says
Well, you asked… 🙂
Live here in Redmond, Oregon (Central Oregon) Have 4 HUGE trees in my backyard, (NO!! I did not plant them, they were here) and have been spending my days raking and bagging leaves…. horrid job, but i am sure it is good exercise for my partial hip replacement hahahaha…. and i DO LOVE the smell of those leaves. dont know what to compare it with, it is it’s own smell and certainly the smell of Fall…. Getting down to 12 this week and expecting a bit of snow over the weekend…. and we do need whatever moisture we can get! Spend days with CNN on and reading, crochet, make cards… Halloween coming up and Fall, being grateful cards to make, plus Xmas and multitude of birthdays….So enjoy your blog, have so over the years, avidly follow as i rv’d for 7 mos in 2010-11…. but was not really my cup of tea. Too hard to do alone, well had my Luci as companion, but could not get her to do the dump!!! or drive…. hahaha
And your pictures are to die for and make me aspire to do better on my own….
Love the info about France and your adventures, no matter how curtailed at the time….
Take Care and God Bless
Jean Reeder says
Thank you for your thoughts. I have been feeling the same way. We call it bloom where you are planted. I don’t think everything will go back to the same. Many things around me have changed forever. But that is ok, change is the only constant in our lives. You have a beautiful place to live. The pictures are wonderful. Health and happiness to you and yours.