Lockdown Day 24 – Life goes on

Walking into the village yesterday I came across a number of pretty flowering trees. The pale yellow jasmin creepers adorned some old abandoned windows and more and more poppies are popping out of the stone walls. I caught a dog peeing on some flowering weeds that look just as pretty as the poppies but I’m sure they didn’t appreciate the acid treatment. The irony of the act matched the fact that this idyllic weather has almost zero people enjoying it.

The almond trees blossomed early this year in Provence due to very warm winter temperatures. They were already out at the beginning of February and have now turned into bright green leafed trees. Soon we’ll be able to pick the young fuzzy almonds off of them and eat them, yum! There are so many types of blossoms here, I can’t name them all but I’ll describe them to you and you can see the photos. They really are beautiful and have a way of cheering one up in this miserable time of coronavirus “battle.” Some cherry blossoms are a dark pink and the pear blossoms are white but with tiny little yellow and black dots in the centre. There was Wisteria too, early stages but glorious still.

The village is not totally dead. I noticed the workers were busy continuing to build around here. Particularly at Lou Calen, where it must actually be quite pleasant to move trucks around without worrying about running over pedestrians and dealing with other vehicles coming in and out of the village. They are able to keep the safe social distance too and are considered required workers so can continue to earn their living. While France declares a recession, and a severe economic blow that resembles its state during WWII, they can consider themselves lucky.

It was hubby Thierry’s birthday yesterday. I wanted to throw him a surprise party with his friends but of course that wasn’t possible. The kids and I decided we would make a special Raclette dinner for him so I had to go and get the ingredients. Going out anywhere these days requires some preparation in making sure one has the right gear on. I didn’t have gloves but I brought my big packet of antiseptic wipes with me. I had masks and I wore one when I got to the shop. With one wipes I wiped down the caddy, then took another wipe and held it in my hand and used it to open the fridge doors and picked up the items I wanted to buy: Raclette cheese slices (flavoured with pepper, white wine, and herbs), Italian shaved chorizo, parma ham, Danish salami, smoked beef. I also found a really wonderful looking Pouilly Fuissé (white wine from Burgundy). For these items I had to go to the Casino market in Salernes. They are a bit more expensive than Super U or Intermarché but they have some out-of-ordinary products. After using the same wipe to punch in my code for my bank card when paying, I pushed the caddy back to the car, careful not to touch my face during the whole time I shopped mind you, then after getting into the car I took another wipe and wiped every inch of my hands then the stearing wheel, the break, the stick shift… Then I sighed and wondered if I’ll ever stop doing this every time I get into a car. What I do know though is that one day I’ll run out of these antiseptic wipes and will need to find another way to keep things clean if I can’t buy anymore. I suppose I could carry a block of soap and a big bottle of water in the car and wash my hands onto the parking lot? Then I should also carry a clean towel each time too. What a pain.

When I got home I noticed Thierry cutting more wood. I think we have enough now for about 3 years but he keeps at it to stay active. My chance to use the internet, I thought. Normally, if he is using WIFI for a conference call, I cannot use it at the same time because the connection here is very slow. I believe this is the case for lots of other people. Cotignac will not be getting high speed internet before the end of this year and where we are, just outside the village, this will not happen until 2023! But the problem at the moment is that there is too much demand (understandably considering our confinement) and the service providers (like SFR and FREE) are being overwhelmed making it impossible for us to all use internet at the same time. But we have adjusted by taking turns here in our home.

It was such a glorious day yesterday which is probably why my girls spent most of the time entertaining the pigs. They have given them names: Gizmo, Gregory, Kuro chan, Dindinou, Simon, and Kevinette. The last one they thought was male and first called him Kevin, turned out to be female; hence the odd name. They each have their own personalities. There is an introvert, an affectionate extrovert, an ambitious and precocious would be leader, and a real big teddy bear type that likes to be brushed and does a roly poly maneuvre (flops onto his side) each time he sees my younger one come up from the house. These pigs are very clean; they do their business on one side of there big pen and not anywhere else. They know where to sleep, where to play, and where to eat and they are all separate. Having spent most of my life in large cities I didn’t know this about farm animals. I am trying not to get too attached to them because I know that one day they will become food. But I figure if that’s inevitable they might as well have a really good life, heaven on earth, while they are alive. I thank them every day for making our trash less heavy with vegetable peels and for being able to avoid having to deal with building a compost bin.

I found out yesterday that Billy, a British member of the Expat community here, whom I had known for over 10 years, passed away in his sleep. He was about my age, early 50s maybe just a tad older. He was a genuinely nice man that frequented the village bars and made do with his limited French. He was well liked but would get into bar brawls every now and again. I once had a conversation with him about vegetables. He told me he hated them. He was funny. He told me stories about his noble family roots and his trailer home in the same manner, always with a smile. I’m so sad to know I’ll never bump into him again. May he rest in peace.