Lockdown day 41 – Update

Forty one days since the lockdown began in France and only yesterday the government announces they will only be able to tell us when restaurants can open up again, at the end of May (so we will not know before then). Schools will start to open on the 11th of May (albeit scattered depending on region and class/age) and so will other businesses but basically anything that gathers people close together like events (parties, festivals, concerts) and going out to eat, is off. Things are starting to look complicated. I watched a mayor of a coastal town talk on the news about his confidence in being able to open up the beaches to the public whilst keeping the numbers down. I wonder…how?

Whilst Trump in America is touting the use of disinfectant products as a possible cure (just when I thought he couldn’t get any more stupid, he proves me wrong over and over again) and Oxford medical students in the UK become guinea pigs for the first vaccine testing, France continues to use Hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients, albeit only those people without any underlying health conditions. Hydroxychloroquine can cause some heart problems and also has many other nasty side effects that need to be considered before it’s prescribed. The French professor of Microbiology Didier Raoult, continues to stand behind his claim that the Malaria/Lupus drug works against the coronavirus but only if taken in the early stages of the disease. It doesn’t seem to work as well for those 20 per cent of cases who are in the later stage where they need emergency care or ventilators to aid in breathing. But aren’t those people the ones who need a cure the most? The more I think about this subject the more I just think we need to wait for a vaccine before going back to life as usual. And that will be at least a year from now. But France is counting on people continuing to wear masks and practice social distancing, even while going to restaurants (after they open) which will not be easy. Since Sweden is keeping all their businesses open, we’ll see how they fair in a couple of months’ time in their coronavirus case numbers. If they can keep them down maybe we can too. The point is to not saturate the hospitals so that other patients (sans COVID) can be seen to, as per normal. We need to know how to best live with this virus going around in order to save jobs and the lives that would be lost without them.

Here in Cotignac we have been busy preparing our vegetable garden and although we like frogs, we don’t care to hear them all night and day so we have been catching them from garden ponds and bringing them down to the basins lower down on the property. They are so loud it’s impossible to sleep at night or even listen to each other talk outside on a nice evening! This year for planting we decided on peppers (red and green), courgettes (orange and green), tomatoes, and strawberries. I have a raspberry bush at the end of the potager that keeps giving every year, early Summer. The berries make up part of my breakfast and they are super sweet and wonderful. The plant seems to be growing side ways and it looks like parts of it have died but I’m not sure whether to pull those branches out, they have lots of pricklies on them.

The pigs are getting bigger but they are still fun to watch chase the girls around. They have learned to sit and lie down because they know they will get massages and treats if they do. Pigs are smart. On second thought I’d learn to sit and lie down if someone gave me massages and treats too! But speaking of massages, I wonder if that occupation will be able to continue in the world of COVID? What could masseuses do to prevent contaminating/being contaminated should they continue to work? Wear gloves? That would not be the same and keeping a safe distance would not be possible. But physical therapists need to keep working so it must be okay, just risky? The Japanese use robots to look after some of their elderly in care centers, maybe that will take off elsewhere too (?).

It’s so nice to see the roses blooming. Roses always make me happy. The almonds are getting big too. The sun is shining bright today and 25 degrees is forecast, bliss! I put my feet in the pool (still being cleaned) and although it was cold, it felt so good so I’ll do that again today. Yesterday I also saw a pretty butterfly in the pool. I presumed it was dead but then when I fished it out I noticed it flinching. So I let it dry out on my hand and then it flew away. That felt so good, like hope was alive! But what I really miss most is walking down to La Tuf, the microbrewery in Cotignac, for a drink with friends and to listen to live music. It’s such an easy place to drop into, a casual, beautiful place to hang out and everyone is always so nice and friendly there. I miss the buzz of the Spring tourists and the clanging of plates and cutlery of al fresco diners on the Cours. I miss a lot of things that we took for granted before. Don’t we all?