Friday was May Day, or Labor Day in France. Normally, everyone takes the day off and everything is closed, but, it seemed like any other day to me. In past years, I'd host a picnic with friends as a way to force myself to do something fun and not to work...but, no picnic this year.
Saturday morning, like the Groundhog Day life we're in, I did my usual routine. "Sans la femme de ménage" (housekeeperless), I changed the sheets and washed them, watered the plants, cleaned the toilet and bathroom, wiped down all the surfaces and mopped all the floors. My housekeeper of 25 years, who I hope will return when lockdown is over, should be quite proud of me — I've found things to clean we didn't even know existed. I must admit, however, that I'll be very happy when she returns and while she's making the whole apartment sparkle, I can head out for other more important things...like a manicure.
Like the rest of you women who are spoiled like I am by having regular manicures, lockdown has been a disaster for my hands and nails. Washing of the hands a zillion times per day (at least, it feels that way), then creaming them up, hasn't really done much to help. It's a small price to pay for staying healthy, however, and knock on wood...so far, so good. I've managed to stay away from infection. But, the moment my manicurist calls to make an appointment for me, count me in...no, count me out and there!
Fortunately, I'm not paranoid about catching Covid-19. I gave up fear of death a long time ago, along with fear in general. It's a worthless emotion based on what we imagine, not what we know. Twenty-first century philosopher Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, told an interviewer, "The reason why you don't put your hand in the fire is not because of fear, it's because you know that you'll get burned. You don't need fear to avoid unnecessary danger — just a minimum of intelligence and common sense." Further on he clarified it more: "This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now." So, I do what I can do, knowing what I know, and then let life take its course. The absence of fear is the definition of courage and quite empowering. If you aren't already letting go, now's a good time to remove the words "fear," "concern," "anxious," "worried," etc., from your vocabulary for good.
Daily I've taken to long walks, making use of the one hour granted us and staying somewhere near the one kilometer radius from home restriction. The weather in Paris has been extraordinarily beautiful since the beginning of lockdown mid March, begging us all to take advantage of it...so I have been doing just that. The skies have been bluer and the air cleaner than ever before, likely due to the lack of pollution. As a result, I've been getting more exercise than normal and going further from home than usual, too.
Saturday, there were more people and cars on the streets than I've seen since it all began here March 17th. Rue de Bretagne looked relatively status-quo except that the purveyors of food were open for business. All the cafés and other merchants are still shut tight and will be for some time to come. Social distancing meant dodging people, but doable, now that conditioning keeps us all so remote from one another. With traffic busier, the noise level was up and I found myself wishing the cars and motorbikes would all go away again.
It's interesting what aspects we actually will like from this period of confinement and what we will continue to do long after it's over. When confinement in France ends May 11th, it won't really end fully. We'll gradually go back to a more normal life, "petit à petit." Even without the government decrees, my prediction is that we'll all be putting our toes in the water to test the temperature before we dive in.
The government decrees, as recently announced May 1st, have first classified the various departments, marking three maps of France by zones as green, orange or red, first depending on the percentage of emergency visits made for suspected Covid-19 cases (whether confirmed or not) in the previous seven days.
The second map is based on the proportion of usually open intensive care beds that are now occupied by Covid-19 patients (a rate that can exceed 100%, as additional beds have been created to cope with the epidemic). It shows departments’ ability to cope with new severe cases.
The third map is a synthesis of the first two.Every day, new maps are presented with a decisive map issued on May 7th to determine how deconfinement measures will be applied, department by department as of May 11th. Those living in green departments will find themselves the least confined, while those in red departments will be stricter.
What's in store for us, as proposed as of the May 11th deconfinement, to be discussed today in parliament, are:
* No travel outside of 100 kilometers from home... * A 14-day self-imposed quarantine for people arriving in France from all destinations and all nationalities and isolation for those who test positive... * Extension of the state of health emergency until July 24th...
See the official infographic explaining the full measures here.
How this plays out in reality is still to be seen. I am not counting any chickens, at least not yet. There are lots of eggs yet to lay. One thing I know for sure, protective masks are now part of our wardrobe and I might need one for every outfit. It's hard to tell how long mask-wearing will be "de rigueur," so best be prepared. The masks I ordered from Les Indiennes de Nîmes haven't arrived yet by post, so I am masklessly holding my breath when I'm less than two meters from someone else, but not holding it for the postman since delivery these days is so uncertain.
In the interim, while Patty Sadauskas is in confinement in Nîmes, she has taken her exceptional photos of France and created a variety of cool masks now purchasable on Redbubble. So, if you want to be more stylish than any of your friends and show how much you love France, be sure to order a few for yourself (buy 4 or more and get a discount) and then as gifts for all your friends. They'll love you for it.
P.S. Want to keep your creative juices flowing this summer? The Paris Writers Workshop 2020 is going on-line! This year, Paris’ literary heritage is at your fingertips! PWW has been WICE’s flagship creative writing event for over two decades. Held every two years, the event features distinguished and award-winning faculty. The Paris Writers Workshop will be held July 5-12, 2020. In addition to the master classes, all participants are invited to enjoy an opening reception, join in our panel discussions and meet over a closing cocktail. Click here to learn more about it and register!
P.P.S. GIVEAWAY ALERT!!! April in Paris Tours and Un Picnic à Paris want to show their appreciation to the hardworking essential workers from around the globe, who have been dedicated to helping our communities during the COVID19 pandemic! And they want to hear from you about a hero in your community! April Pett and Carla Measer-Costamagna have partnered-up to give away a Private Paris Walking Tour followed by a Gourmet Picnic for two! Your picnic basket will include sweet treats from Tarts & Truffles, an organic wine from L'EtiquetteWine Cave, a cheese selection from Fromagerie Beaufils as well as fresh baguette and seasonal fruits.
To enter your hero, it's simple: Follow @aprilinparistours and @unpicnicaparis on Instagram and/or Facebook - Like the post - Tag your hero! This may be a shop clerk, pharmacist, transporter, healthcare provider, food service worker or volunteer. We want to hear their stories! The winner will be selected by random on Friday, May 8, 2020. A big "merci beaucoup" to heroes worldwide for all of your hard work!
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