Winter, Spring, And Re-Booting
Old and new, such are the rhythm of things here in SW of France at the beginning of February.
The slumber of winter is starting to ease, yet much remains frozen and asleep. We’re in that curious in-between time where nature is on the cusp of life and we see it all around us. Birds are singing like they just got out of school, trees and bushes are busting out buds in the millions, flies are appearing in our windows (how do those darn things survive??) and we even saw a solitary bee.
The weather is changing too, subtly but surely.
After a frozen January, this month has launched with sun and comparative warmth. Frosty mornings are becoming rarer, and the afternoons are pleasant enough to lounge around in a fleece, which in Nina terms make them darn near perfect.
It’s the start of Nature’s re-boot and in turn the start of mine too, or at least that’s the plan. New beginnings, re-starts and hopefully the end of COVID (?). That’s what’s on my mind in this weeks blog and what I’d like to share with you today.
I’m Attempting A Re-Boot
Much like Spring, I’m trying to bring life back into the slumber of my own body and mind.
These past years of COVID have admittedly worn me down slowly but surely, and I need to re-boot this middle-aged machine of mine. So, I’ve renewed my hiking closet thanks to the yearly winter French sales, where I picked-up an array of new fleece from Decathlon for a mere EUR 9 a piece and also sprung on some hiking shoes to replace my multi-year-old Keen sandals. I’ve been taking this spiffy ensemble for long walks in the countryside, thus officially launching my year of mental and physical health….or that’s the plan anyway.
Right now I’m up to three 10K walks a week with 3-4K walks the other days, sprinkled with callanetics zoom sessions in-between. Most days it feels a bit like wading backwards through waist-high treacle in concrete boots, but I’m hopeful my software isn’t too old to run smoothly again. Also, there’s a point to all this besides just physical bettering, but I’m not quite ready to share that one yet.
Let’s see how the initial re-boot goes and we’ll step forward from there, eh?
I’m Also Staying Mostly Dry
As a boot on-top of the re-boot I decided to try a sober January, or rather a mostly sober January (one can only ask so much of a Dane) and in doing so inadvertently realized I’d become trendy.
According to various polls almost 1 in 7 Americans participated in Dry January with Millennials and Gen Z’s leading the trend. In France it’s surprisingly much higher, with almost 1 in 4 claiming they’ve given it a go. Of course over here it’s caused a hefty debate between those that feel beleaguered French wine producers should be supported (as a matter of national pride), versus those that insist Dry January should be a government-sponsored health initiative (for the good of all French).
As with all things here both sides of the debate are passionate and stubbornly set in their views. Gotta love it!
As a Nordic Gal I’m rather more relaxed about the whole thing, but I do find amusement in the fact that a mere 70 or so years ago, a similar “health initiative” was indeed launched by the French government. Of course at the time goals were rather more moderate, encouraging the populace to limit their intake to a mere liter of wine a day (kids were omitted, as they only had a “little” wine with school lunches). In 1954 the famous French graphic designer Philippe Foré was brought on to illustrate the campaign and santé sobriété became a very French thing.
For my own sake I’ve actually enjoyed the experiment and will likely continue it a little longer, staying well below the 1 liter per day limit.
Re-boot, Ctrl-Alt-Del, Re-Boot….c’mon body.
COVID, Is It The End Finally?
As for the general populace and general health, it seems COVID news is finally starting to shift.
As I predicted back in December, the Omicron variant exploded and raced all across Europe and the world like a fireball, although it went even more insane than I could have imagined. At one point in January we hit over 500,000 cases per day in France (~0.7% of the entire population!), and almost everyone I talked to either had it, or knew someone who had it. Thankfully our hospitals have managed to hold on, although it’s gotten close.
But I sense things are changing and I think/hope/believe this is the beginning of the end in Europe.
Just this week Denmark led the pack by announcing removal of all internal COVID regulations and life “back to normal”. This isn’t because infections aren’t happening (they are still running wild actually), but because high vaccination rates (over 80%) and milder variants (Omicron sub-variant BA.2 is now circulating) have kept severe hospitalizations (ICU) rates low.
And that, my friends is (and always has been) the key to everything!
I predict we’ll see this trend expand in all of Europe over the next few months. Once ICU numbers drop, so will restrictions, at least as far as face masks and limits (the COVID-19 travel pass is likely to remain, until July 2023). Sweden have already announced they will lift all restrictions next week, then likely Spain, Italy and others to follow. And as long as no new, crazy variants pop up, we’ll finally have reached the “live with it” phase of this Pandemic.
Dear Odin, lets hope so….
Life Changes, Life Stays The Same
I walked with Polly around the neighborhood this morning.
The Don was cranking up his farming equipment, the start of a new season. He told me he was retiring last year, but I guess the family business is not that easy to get out of. We chatted about the weather and his cat, safe subjects that seem to maintain neighborly harmony.
Further down the way the hippy waved to me in his underwear, as he always does, and informed me he had almost finished his course in concrete furniture building. I instinctively congratulated him, and then spent the rest of the walk trying to figure out what kind of contraptions he was going to build in said medium, and exactly who was going to buy them in the depths of rural France.
Hey, it’s 2022 so I guess anything is possible?
Perhaps the biggest change in our little hamlet is that we’ve got road signs now, and actual, factual house numbers.
An even bigger surprise, at least for me, is that our signs are red with light beige lettering, an exotic choice that I would have not imagined possible under French authorized road sign color codes (which surely must exist, non?). Still, there they were shining bright and new when we got back from Spain, and a week or so later our Maire dutifully came around to present our new (also red) house numbers together with chocolates and a very formal paper attesting to our new address. We are now a mere street number rather than a house name, and although we can officially keep both I can’t help but feel a smidgen sad to see that old tradition die. At least UPS will finally be able to find us?
New things in old France, re-boots and re-start, I guess that’s the trend for us all. Let’s hope those plans becomes reality and we get to live our dreams this year, no matter how crazy or different. IMO we all deserve it.
Anyone else doing a re-boot this New Year? What are you up to and what dreams do you have for 2022? DO share and comment below!SPONSORED LINK:
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