Week 1 Of Lockdown 3
It’s a grey day outside today.
Early this morning fog blanketed the valley in a thick mist, lifting just enough to reveal grey skies and rain this afternoon. The valley is still, and time has morphed into an indistinguishable blur. Hours pass by with barely a notice except for walks outside with Polly. And the days roll along in a rhythm all their own, the week gone in the blink of an eye like the fast forward button on a movie.
Surprisingly I feel fine. We’re seven days into our third lockdown, and my mood has been good, bolstered by the the fact that everything just seems to be going so quickly and smoothly. Having felt so much mentally heavier in the past two lockdowns, it’s a nice change that I hope will last.
Maybe I’m getting used to this confinement business, lol…
It’s a sad thing to say, and in reality it’s probably got more to do with how busy we’ve been this past week than anything else.
There was deep-cleaning of the Château to do (which took several days), re-organizing ourselves back in the house, and then prep work for Paul to fly to the USA, a last-minute decision that created a frenzy of activity on top of it all. Between booking tickets, finding health insurance (that covers COVID, just in case), collecting all the required documents to leave France, taking a COVID test and actually getting him to the airport, it was touch-and-go right up until the last minute.
But we got it all done!
Paul flew the coop yesterday, and now Polly and I have the task of getting back into the rhythm of life in our little SW French community all by ourselves. And of course life here is never really boring. This past week we saw vineyards get lit on fire, calls for the baguette to become a UNESCO heritage piece, and days of beautiful Spring weather which inspired time me to get my camera out.
So, despite the grey today we’ve got lots of sunshine ahead, and just three more weeks (or so) of this to go.
Paul’s Flown The Coop (For A While)
Paul flew from France to Miami yesterday morning.
It was a long flight to take and frankly an agonizing decision (whether or not to go), but he had a legitimate family reason for going, and after thinking & talking it over for several days he finally decided to take the plunge.
In the end the whole thing went as smoothly as we could have hoped for. The flights were all on-time, and he had an empty seat next to him the whole way. Passport control on both sides went smoothly, and despite the French lockdown the only documentation he was asked to show on exiting was his negative COVID test (go figure). Plus everyone on the flight was masked. So, it went as well as could be expected?
Of course as soon as Paul decided to fly to FL, it made sense to get him vaccinated there too.
FL just opened up to all adults (18 and over), so I was worried the systems would be overloaded and overbooked, but getting the appointment was actually a breeze. I simply logged onto several sites (Walmart, Publix, CVS, Walgreens…) early AM US-time and kept clicking around until a slot came up.
Within 20 minutes I had a booking for the exact location and the very vaccine we wanted, the 1-shot J&J COVID vaccine at a Walmart just a few miles away from where Paul’s staying. So, assuming all goes to plan, he will be done and dusted by tomorrow morning!
Efficient and easy!
Paul will be staying in FL for multiple weeks, so he will have time to build some immunity before he flies back. And if, for whatever reason, he’s offered something other than J&J tomorrow AM, he’ll extend his stay for however long it takes to get it all done. It’s a helluva trip, but if it all works out he’ll get to see everyone he needs to see (the rest of his fam are all already fully vaccinated) and I’ll be the only one left needing a jab.
Fingers and paws crossed it all goes as planned.
We’ve Had A Spring Freeze (Which Was Bad)
This week saw a surprise freeze run through most of France.
Here in our little corner of the SW it was only a mild freeze and actually quite refreshing, as we enjoyed several crisp and cool days with just a short snap below zero one morning. So for us it was a nice change after a week of warmer temps, but in some parts of France it was a true catastrophe.
You see April is normally when the vineyard vines break out, teased from their winter hibernation by the warmth of springtime. Mild temps are key during this time as the delicate buds are easily damaged, so ideally you want weather that changes slowly and progressively.
What’s happened instead was literally a wine-makers worst nightmare.
After 15 or so days of warmer temps that encouraged the vines to bud, France was hit with the worst freeze that anyone has seen in decades. All 65 wine areas of Bordeaux saw temps plunge as low as -5C, as did areas of Languedoc and the Rhône valley. The pics were spectacular as winemakers scrambled to keep their buds viable by lighting braziers and paraffin candles in long rows across their most valuable vineyards. It was a strange and beautiful sight to behold, but it masked disaster as over 90% of the crops were destroyed in some of the hardest-hit areas.
And of course winemakers weren’t the only people who suffered. All types of flowering trees (fruit trees) were damaged, as were newly-planted sugar beets and flowering rapeseed. Only time will tell how bad the impact will really be.
The Baguette Is Going For UNESCO Status (Which Is Good)
On a lighter note, the baguette of France may be reaching a new level of international recognition.
As the core of French heritage, the daily bread of French life, it’s seems only natural that it should be revered in the same manner as all national treasures….say like the Taj Mahal, or The Great Barrier Reef, just to give a few random examples. After all the baguette is not only beautiful to behold, it’s a crusty, soft, fluffy, velvety delicacy that accompanies every aspect of modern and traditional life.
Want an absorbent sponge for your sauce au poive? Baguette to the rescue! A carrier for your truffle brie? Baguette is the answer! A quick and versatile breakfast that requires but a thin sliver of salted butter to metamorphose into a heavenly delight? Baguette all the way!
The idea is not as crazy as it might seem at first glance. Getting UNESCO heritage status safeguards the item (and the making of the item) for the future, sealing it permanently into the history books so-to-speak. And surprisingly (and I learned something myself here), baguette is not the first bread to have achieved this revered status. Flat breads from Iran and Kazakhstan have apparently already made the UNESCO list, along with flattened sourdough bread from Malta and the Neapolitan art of pizza twirling.
And it even goes waaaay beyond bread.
Apparently the annual grass mowing competition in Kupres has heritage status, as well as sauna culture in Finland, not to mention tree beekeeping in Poland and wine horses in Spain. I’ve known a few folks who were super serious mowers, so I guess it makes sense? Either way the full list of heritage items is a fascinating plunge down the rabbit hole, and well worth a gander if you have a few hours to spare.
So yes….gooo baguette. I will be breathlessly waiting for UNESCO to announce its decision in late 2022.
We Enter Week 2 Of Lockdown (With Hope)
On the virus front there’s not been much new to report in France this past week.
Hospitals are still overwhelmed and the prediction is that that ICU occupancy will peak next week, and then hopefully start to trend down as the lockdown does its job. It’s all a matter of wait and see at this point. In the meantime, the government is still touting their vaccination ramp-up. Apparently 70.9 million doses are expected to land in France between now and end of June, which (if true) would allow ~70% of adults to be vaccinated. That’s assuming they can all be distributed and actually injected into real people. So, there’s that, and with that the hope that maybe, someday we’ll get out of this crazy funk.
Week 2 here we come….wish me luck…
Have you read any interesting, strange or unusual stories this past week? Or perhaps you have one of your own to share? If so, I’d looove to hear about them. DO share and comment below.