Déconfinement Day 17: France Slowly Reopens

May 28, 2020 at 8:15 pm Leave a comment

Harvesting the veche de vache

I remember one time, years ago, after spending a month in Paris and then heading south to visit friends in Provence, being struck with the not-very-original but nonetheless unavoidable thought that, though many people do not think of it that way, France is really, primarily, an agricultural nation.

In a small rural village, like where I live now, at this time of year crops become a matter of general interest. Even if you’re not personally involved in agriculture, you can’t help but notice the growing and thriving of things. Where I am, in southern Champagne near the Burgundian border, the main crop is the grapes used to make champagne, but there are a few others. And right next to our home are some fields of some of them: this year, wheat, colza, cow vetch. Last year there were sunflowers.

Winter Wheat in Late Spring. Photo by Janet Hulstrand.

It is very pleasant, living next to a field. You can watch the wheat grow, changing in not only size but color–from green, to a greenish kind of blue, to gold–as it matures. Once on an evening walk, I could swear I even heard it growing. I hesitate to mention this because I know it makes me sound a little bit crazy. The sound was very faint and I didn’t hear it for very long. …but I swear to God I heard it. It was a kind of very soft whisper–kind of like fairies would whisper, if there were fairies–as I recall.

Anyway, in case anyone wants to know about the possibility of this being a real thing, here you go. And I say, what goes for corn goes for wheat as well…

That’s how quiet it is here.

I do have several friends who are vignerons, and what I have learned from one of them this week is that the vines are about to flower, a month ahead of schedule. And that they do not expect a very big crop this year. It’s supposed to be another long, hot, dry summer. We shall see…

Meanwhile, France is beginning to very slowly and carefully come out of the strict lockdown the country has been in for two and a half months now. Apparently the first two weeks of déconfinement have gone well enough that the government feels confident that, as of June 2, they can lift many of the restrictions, including the one restricting travel more than 100 kilometers away from one’s home. Here are the main details of what Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced today, and what will change on June 2.

As for me, I’m staying here. Keeping fingers crossed that all continues to go well as people begin to slowly, carefully go on about their lives in a somewhat less restricted way. And enjoying another string of beautiful days and the fact that my sons are here to share them with me…

Acacia tree in bloom. Photo by Janet Hulstrand.

Prenez soin de vous, tout le monde…keep wearing those masks, and keep washing those hands. And stop touching your face! 🙂


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: , , , .

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