It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like…?
Changes….changes happening everywhere. It seems to be the word of the week for me and it’s got me thinking.
It all started with the weather, which has gone quite crazy and can’t decide which way it wants to go. One minute it’s raining, the next the sun peeks out and then suddenly it decides to hail. It’s been like this all week with storms that have rolled through in harmonic succession, like wild waves crashing on a beach. Not so bad if you’re inside a warm house watching it all, but not so fun if you happen to be out walking the dog and get caught in the middle of it all. We’ve done both.
Our garden is crazy confused too.
Most of it has gone to sleep, trees bare and flowers gone, but our cherry tomato plant keep popping out new fruit, and autumn colors are not quite ready to let go. It feels so strange to taste summer sweetness of in the middle of winter grey, and to see yellows and oranges so late in the day.
Even the ground we walk on is different.
Weeks of rain have left it soft and moist, like a giant sponge. At night, when all is quiet and the only sound alive is the hollow hoots of owls that travel hauntingly through the black, you can hear your feet squish on the lawn. In a year when most things have been so serious, it’s a small and silly thing that makes me laugh out loud. Anyone that happens to hear probably thinks I’m going mad, cackling away like an old hag in the middle of the night, but these days I take my laughs where I can.
It’s all part of the change, part of the movement of life in a year where nothing seems to have moved at all. Changes and not changes. It’s where I’m at and it’s what I’m sharing with you today.
I’ve Changed, We’ve All Changed
This year I feel I’ve aged. Well, obviously I’m a year older so there’s that little gift, but I also feel that I’ve aged mentally and physically in ways way beyond my actual years. We’ve all had to go inwards this year, and the experience has been different for everyone.
For some folks these past months may have been restorative, perhaps even a welcome repose. I’ve read about artists who thrived under the lockdown, families who found their groove, people who re-discovered their love for all things domestic, and businesses that managed to go online and prosper. Those are the lucky ones, the ones, where 2020 was a boon. For others this year has been tragic, with losses personally or financially, relationships strained, mental challenges and day-to-day struggles. A very different kind of year.
One could say both these things would have happened in any year, but the pandemic has certainly made them much more apparent and intense.
Personality also comes into it.
Introverts have undoubtedly fared better this year than extroverts, home-bodies better than nomads. Then again, perhaps not? I read a rather interesting article not that long ago about the struggles of introverts under lockdown, that the initial solitude can be welcoming, but under prolonged isolation their psyche can flip. Likewise with extroverts, who can become unexpectedly withdrawn in confinement. In other words, no matter what our personalities, we all seek a balance to some degree.
For someone like me, who thrives on interaction and feels alive when I travel, it’s as if the tap that feeds my soul suddenly got turned off this year, like a river run dry with all the nutrients of life gone with it. Admittedly it’s been a struggle which I’m sure you’ve sensed through my ups and downs on the blog. Of course I’ve worked to find other things to fill the gap; gardening, baking, exercise, French paperwork, house projects and day-to-day routines. All decent things, all fulfilling in their own way.
But after a year of sitting still I have to admit I feel the loss most keenly. I guess some parts of our personality can never fully be tamed no matter the place, even with time and age. I’ll always be semi-feral; half wanderer, half chameleon, half here, half not, and if I’m to thrive I must explore, even if only part of the time. Hopefully next year will allow that again.
So, I guess you could say I’m changed, and yet not changed. Perhaps you feel the same?
France Is “Open” Again, Kinda
On a practical level, as far as France goes it’s full steam ahead on the multi-stage re-opening plan that the government announced at the end of last month. Or as I like to call it, the “let them have Christmas” plan.
Basically folks are shopping and planning get-togethers for the holidays, despite the fact that virus numbers have not come close to the magic 5,000 infections/day number that was declared “critical” to hit for the re-opening plan to continue. Instead, with cases still hovering around 13,000/day the government have decided on yet another compromise. Shops remain open, but theatres, cinemas, museums, restaurants and bars will remain closed. And folks will be allowed to travel & get together for Christmas, but New Year’s Eve will go under curfew and is thus totally shut-down (can’t wait to see how that plays out…).
Not much logic in it all, as far as controlling the virus goes, but for the sake of businesses who rely on Christmas sales & the mental sanity of the general population, I can’t say I blame them. Sadly however, it will probably cause another infection & hospitalization spike a month from now, which in turn means we’ll likely have to go into lockdown again sometime in Feb, but I guess that’s the cycle we’re in, for now.
Change, yet not change….
Oh, and in case you are wondering what happened to the ski stations that I mentioned in my last post?
After much deliberation & undoubtedly long-winded and impassioned discussion, the government announced their (very predictable) exceptions this week. Ski lifts will remain closed except for professionals, ski clubs, young athletes, and other select people. In other words, ski lifts are closed unless you are authorized to ski, in which case they are open. Yup, about as typically French a declaration as you can get.
As for us, none of this really affects us except that as of the 15th Dec we can now travel between regions again, and we can (finally) ditch the paperwork. No more “attestations” needed every time we go out. Wheeeeee!
Yuletide Is In The Air
On a more positive note the days are counting down to Christmas, and you can sense it in the air.
Our kitchen is decorated with gold stick-on snowflakes and lights that glimmer through the window every night. Our nisser (Christmas Elves) are making mischief, as they always do, and a small mass of presents are slowly piling up underneath our newly-decorated tree. Soon we’ll plan Christmas dinner, bake some special cakes, and perhaps even sample a new secret brew we’ve been making. More on that to come….
We even went to a Christmas market this week!
Of course they’re all officially closed this year, as you well know. But as with all things in France, exceptions can exceptionally be made, if you know who’s who and what forms to fill out. And somehow the teeny little village just down the road from us managed to do just that.
So this morning all three of us took the ~10 minute drive over to do some “essential” Christmas shopping from the local vendors, picking up artisan chocolates, organic wine, natural soaps, and beer. All locally made, all organic and all quite wonderful. Paul had a lovely long chat with the beer guy, exchanging brew ideas while dad and I enjoyed the outdoor entertainment (billed as a “spectacle de rue”) which consisted of an elderly gentleman, his wife and their teeny dog playing a wind-up street organ and doing their very best to sing along.
All very festive, as such things go, and super positive too.
I have to admit I am constantly amazed at the wealth of produce and talent we have in our area. Rural France is changing, as everything is in the world, but here I do believe it’s going in a truly positive direction. Younger folks are seeking the countryside, working to re-invigorate the local areas, creating small businesses and bringing life back into older towns. It’s a good trend.
So yes, change and not change. It’s been a weird year has it not? I’m sure you’ve all felt it differently, depending on your own circumstance and place. And of course I know it’s not over yet, but I’m certainly hoping 2021 will be different, for all of us. A true change, perhaps even a return to normality, if we can envisage or hope for such a thing. Or at least something not quite so crazy. And perhaps a bit of travel? That would be nice indeed.
Do you feel it too, my friends and readers? A change? A not-change? Or perhaps a bit of both. I’d love to know how this year has impacted you on a deeper level. Do feel free to share and comment below.SPONSORED LINK:
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. WheelingIt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Elizabeth Smith says
Thank you for sharing your Christmas Spirit. It seems the whole world is grounded. We were doing some exploring in our Wee Bus but now are staying home as husband has some type of lung disorder that is not COVID and we wait and wait for a biopsy. But even as gloomy as that is we are enjoying the season with lots of phone time and Zooming with family. Thank you for your lovely photos of France, letting us know it’s still there and waiting for visitors.
Oh gosh Elizabeth. What a difficult time to be going through medical worries. I do hope the lung biopsy turns up something that is easy to treat. Thank goodness for Zoom & phones.
We feel you! Our poor rv has been parked for months. We had reservations for a 10 day trip at Christmas time. Our usual trip to a beautiful beach. Our state went back under lockdown this month, as part of the lockdown all campgrounds are closed. I literally cried when I received the email. My spirit is tired of being at home. It wants to go. We completely support shutting down and social distancing. But camping when you are fully self contained just makes me angry. I have my home on wheels and I have been unable to use it for months. 2020 the year that we will all look back on with memories of how we all stayed home.
I SO feel you on this. I look at our little RV everyday when I walk the dog and it looks so sad just sitting there in the driveway. It feels like a long, long time ago since we took it out. Really hoping we get to do a few trips next year. My soul, like your soul, really needs it.
Karen Lee says
The rules for what is shut and what is not are truly ridiculous! Campgrounds shut? It boggles the mind. Can’t wait for this lunacy to be over.
ain't for city gals says
I honestly don’t know how I feel. My main hope is that we have a more human and compassionate next four years to look forward to.
Indeed, I hope for compassion and love between all of us too.
Thanks for all YOU have done for me in keeping my sanity this year. Mille merci! And if course, joyeux noel!
I can say thanks back. A blog needs readers and in your own way you’ve kept me sane too 🙂
Dave Davis says
We are Nomads now for over 7 years. I’ve got severe COPD, I’M 71 so this isolation thing is not new to us. We really would rather be with each other than anyone else, so our form of Nomad is travelling, staying for a month and touring the area in our car. Because so many things bother my lungs, we have always avoided crowds. We your places at the slowest time, we eat at restaurants between 2-4 pm. The same goes for movie theaters, between 2-4.
This year our California touring is cancelled, so we remain in Tucson till March then head to Florida.
We’ve been eating on patios during slow times, and the places we have gone like zoo’s gardens and sight-seeing have been very slow. Some days we just go for a drive.
We miss the movies, and this summer was tough because we always visited outside with kids and grandkids. No restaurants, malls etc. We just bought electric bikes, and if they ever get here we will try a new type of exploring.
When we visit friends we usually visit with only one couple at a time.
But…… The vaccine is real now, so maybe by may when we got Ohio it will be safe to visit kids and grandkids.
My point is, there is always something to do and appreciate..
I hope you have a great New year!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and your own situation. You are so right. There is always something to do and appreciate, and you prove that with your own travels, even with your COPD. It gives me hope and light to hear from other folks out there.
Terri Ann Reed says
I’m enjoying your posts Nina because – one, you’re a great writer and readers can easily connect to you (and commiserate with you), two, I love the European cultures which you describe so vividly, and three, your photos are beautiful. And guess what, I’m doing a secret brew for Christmas too! Last week at the grocery store at 6 AM (when few folks are there) I browsed the “International” aisle and a hard block of piloncillo drew me in, took it home, found this recipe for a fermented drink for the holidays (bought a pineapple a couple days ago) . . . https://www.thespruceeats.com/pineapple-tepache-recipe-4078751
Oh that looks delish! Like a taste of somewhere warm and beachy. Do tell me how it works out.
The baskets at the Christmas market are beautiful! Do you know if they are made locally?
Like you, I am a traveler, and I cancelled so many trips this year, including France. I keep reminding myself that my life is good; our incomes haven’t been affected, our children our grown, and we have a lovely new home to wait out this virus.
But I am going a bit crazy!!!
I so enjoy reading your blog. I discovered it while we were preparing for our 2 year full-time adventure, and we like many of the same places you do. And now I’m vicariously living in Southwest France along with you. Thank you! Happy holidays!
YES the baskets are made locally. In fact all the vendors at that Christmas Market were from around here, and all the produce was hand-made. It was quite incredible actually….beer, wine, chocolates, bread, soap, art, baskets, clothing….there was a lot on display.
And yes….going a bit crazy. I’m with you there.
Albert Wilson says
You are a wonderful writer. Please write a book.
Jennifer Waskow says
I’m a nomad at heart too. In a normal year, I would plan for monthly wanders to get out and see new places and experience a horizon beyond our home in a cul-de-sac. This year, being mostly limited to a tree-filtered sky has been extremely claustrophobic and anxiety filled. Like you, I hit a milestone age of 50 and I feel so much older than I should and feel like I missed time that I can no longer afford to miss. It’s hard but we just keep taking on each day, starting with gratitude for what is and with hope for what may become.
Cynthia huff says
Thank you Nina for the writing and photos in your blog. I love to hear of the south of France especially that the young people are coming in for farming, art, crafting of food and beer. Our community here in Taos, NM has quite a bit of this too.
Enjoy your squishy walks! I sprained my ankle before Thanksgiving and so no walks yet. What a difficult adjustment and one benefit I won’t just take for granted from now on! Quarantine is more Quarantined without the outdoors.
A relief… electors are signing for the new Biden Presidency today… amazing how much calmer I feel.
Be happy,stay safe‼️ Cynthia
Lee and Shelia Brandt says
Wonderful writings as usual. I can’t help but wonder what would you and Paul have done had you still be here in the U.S… We loved the Owl talk…….
Lee and Shelia
Debbie from VA says
This year has been extremely tough for me and I think you described the emotions perfectly. I’ve been having a hard time putting it into words considering that I live with 4 other family members who simply do not understand the misery sitting still entails for me. I am part feral, and oh so nomadic. I feel alive when I am exploring and doing. When I am confined I feel the energy zap out of me, trapped and imprisoned like a caged animal. I am ready to run free but alas, it is not possible yet. In due time my friend, we will hang on until the time comes.
You feel it exactly the way I do! I’ve always wondered if it was just me who felt this way, but I now believe the nomadic gene is a real thing. Sitting still, if I do it too long feels like a cage, and no matter how pretty the place I can never get used to it. I need to explore to regenerate, much like charging a battery. And yes we will get there, both of us, in just a while longer…
brian kilpatrick says
I would enjoy the comments section much more if people would leave the politics out of it. Please. Supposedly its a time to heal. So keep the politics in your own head.
I have enjoyed your blog for many years and really appreciate all the hard work you put into it. Please stay safe.