Lockdown in France, Day 14

March 30, 2020 at 11:20 am 4 comments

 

 

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Spring Wheat in Essoyes. Photo by Janet Hulstrand.

Well, we are going to be confined to our homes here in France for at least another two weeks. Nobody likes this idea: but all of us, especially those of us who are lucky enough to still be well (knock wood) also know that it is a shameful thing to complain about it.

We are reminded, by social media posts, and by each other in other ways, about all of the health care workers and others who have to continue working in this scary time, in order in one way or another to keep the rest of us alive, safe, well. We are reminded of the confinement Anne Frank and her family endured for several years, and for no good reason at all. We are reminded of the ongoing plight of the people of Syria and Yemen.

For goodness sake. And all we are “suffering” is missing out on the opportunity to roam the world freely, in safety and security, the way we are used to doing. In order to safeguard our health. We should be grateful (and I am!) that we are in a place where the government, and most citizens are doing their level best to get us all through this period of time as well as they can. Many of them–for example, the nephew of one of my best friends, who is a medical intern working in a resuscitation unit in a hospital in Reims–are risking their lives bravely, and with no complaint. We should all hope and pray for their health and safety, all the while knowing that not everyone will survive this dreadful scourge.

Here is what is new this week in France.

First of all, the period of confinement, which was originally scheduled for two weeks, has been extended for another two weeks at least, that is, until April 15. The rules concerning confinement have also been tightened: people are restricted to only one hour a day out of doors for exercise, and the exercise must be done strictly alone, and within a 1 kilometer radius of one’s home. There’s a new form anyone who is leaving their home must carry with them, with additional precision about the reasons for being outside one’s home that are permitted; and the form must now note the time of departure from one’s home.

The government is continuing to respond to the crisis in a very active, and proactive, way. For example, this weekend some patients were moved from hospitals in le Grand Est (which includes Champagne, and thus Essoyes) to other parts of France; and some to hospitals in Germany and Switzerland, in anticipation that the “peak” of the wave of people in need of intensive care in this part of France will occur sometime over the next week or so.

Train service has been vastly cut back (partly to allow for activities like the moving of patients, and also because as much as possible no one is supposed to be going anywhere!) And for the time being, postal deliveries will be delivered only three days a week (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) instead of the usual six.

I listened to Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, being interviewed on television this morning. He said a couple of very interesting things. One of those things is that he believes that after this crisis is over, “a new capitalism, more respectful of people,” and more responsive to inequalities in the current economic system, needs to emerge. This is good to hear, because quite clearly the capitalism we currently have is not working very well. (In my opinion it never really has, but I won’t go there…)

Meanwhile the news from the U.S. gets worse and worse, and worse, and worse, on a daily basis. It is heartbreaking, it is appalling, and it is almost (but unfortunately not quite) unbelievable. It’s hard to know what to say about it anymore. The only slightly (kind of) good news is that in the absence of competent and humane national leadership, many governors and other local authorities are stepping up and doing what they can to protect the lives of their people and provide competent, sane, and compassionate leadership. But it’s pretty hard to do when they are deliberately blocked, and even mocked, at every turn.

However. Also meanwhile, people all over the world (including in the U.S.) are demonstrating just how creative people can be, especially in times where there is an urgent need for it. They are finding ways to work with each other; entertain each other; reach out to each other; even do yoga or other exercises together; and to provide each other with helpful information and encouragement through social media, new videoconferencing platforms, and “old-fashioned” means of communication like the telephone.  Yesterday afternoon, when my eyes were too tired to read anymore, but I really longed for some poetry, I was able to “attend” a poetry reading from some years back at the University of Virginia. The internet can be, and I believe mostly is, a wonderful thing…

Here in Essoyes, some very dedicated volunteers are making sure that everyone is kept up to date on current developments and providing a means for people who need help to find it, through daily postings on a volunteer Facebook page. (They also organized the nightly musical tribute  (at 8:00 pm) to nos heroes quotidien” that I mentioned in my last post. Last week they also organized a coloring activity for the children of the village, who received printouts of pictures they could color, of some of those “everyday heroes” going about their work.) A very sweet, and thoughtful idea, and fun for the kids! The mayor and municipal council have also organized a network of volunteers to deliver food and other essential items to those who are in need of such help.

Last Wednesday night, by request of the bishops of France, church bells rang out across France for ten minutes, as a way of conveying strength, solidarity and comfort to the people caring for the sick, as well as those who are ill. My son and I listened to the bells of Essoyes from our yard as the sun set, and it was a beautiful thing to behold. I had promised to try to capture some of that for you on video, and I did try, but I failed. Fortunately my son succeeded in making a beautiful video but so far we have not been able to post it here due to “technical difficulties.” If we figure out how to do it I will post it here later…

Stay safe, everyone. Stay happy if you can. And stay well…until next week…

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, and is currently working on her next book, a literary memoir entitled “A Long Way from Iowa.”

 

Entry filed under: About Essoyes, About France, About Quarantine 2020. Tags: , , .

Lockdown Day 7: France Fights to Flatten the Curve Lockdown, Day 21: The Everyday Heroes of Essoyes

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Deborah T Smith  |  March 30, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks for more good information, and for the encouragement that we all need to hear,

    Reply
  • 2. betweenmeandthee  |  March 30, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Oh my Gracious!! Your take on our US situation is uninformed and ridiculous! NYCis the hardest hit and the President and Governors are working very well together. Everyone I know here in So Cal are very respectful of the health crisis and obedient to the lockdown rules. The US knew the number of cases would rise because we have only been testing for 2 weeks. It is expected to flatten within this next 2 weeks. The NY and the CA governors are working very well with the President and the national health team. We Americans are pulling together along with rest of the world. China waited too long and exposed the rest of the world to this health crisis. Be well in La Belle France the land of my mom’s family.🇫🇷

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply
    • 3. Deborah T Smith  |  March 30, 2020 at 3:04 pm

      Too bad we didn’t plan earlier and attend what the intelligence and health communities were saying 2 months ago about potential direction of the pandemic. I hope none of our loved ones lose their lives for lack of a ventilator or test, and I pray for the health workers whom we all applaud for their heroism — which would be awesome even if they did have adequate supplies. And I hope they will have them soon. Bonne sante’ everyone!

      Reply
  • 4. cochranels  |  April 4, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Glad you & yours are well, Janet. We are too, with fingers crossed.

    Response to betweenmeandthee:

    We, a couple in our 70s, live in D.C. Our son, his wife, and 17 month-old son live near Palm Springs, CA. My extended family lives in N.C. We have followed developments using reliable news sources from around the country.

    I regret to say the federal government’s response to the pandemic has repeatedly been too little, too late, exacerbated by coverups and extremely poor communications. The President first ignored the warnings going back to January. When he finally decided to wake up, he proceeded to change his messages repeatedly and has outright lied day after day. For example, the continuing lack of test kits for the virus makes it impossible to even know how bad the situation is. Trump insists that there are plenty of tests available, but there have been reliable witnesses throughout the country that this is not true. The only bright spot on the federal level is Dr. Anthony Fauci.

    Compared to today’s situation, George W. Bush and “Brownie” look like experts in emergency response when Hurricane Katrina hit.

    I agree that most Governors and local officials have done a much better job than the feds, for which we are grateful, but the leadership from the President and some of his agencies verges on criminal negligence.

    Sigh…..

    Reply

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