We’ve seen those words “until further notice” or to be precise it’s been the French phrase jusqu’à nouvel ordre many times during the past two weeks as new measures have been announced in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The first affected us immediately since it was to close down all schools all across the country. That meant my weekly French classes were canceled as were the English classes where I volunteer that take place in the same building; therefore, in the spirit of Shakespeare, neither a student nor a teacher be. Accompanying that official decree were suggestions about keeping your distance from others, not shaking hands, avoiding gatherings of any kind, etc. but the concept of not being convivial seemed totally foreign.
It didn’t take long for those “suggestions” to become mandatory along with the closure to the public of all non-essential businesses. Shops selling food, cigarettes, and wine were allowed to stay open. Anyone not involved in any commerce that is still operating is supposed to stay at home barring anyone but other household members access. To make a short shopping trip, medical visit, or even a bit of exercise with or without your dog, there is a form to download to take with you to authorize the excursion. To further encourage people to stay indoors, many communities across the country have instituted nightly curfews. Of all the restrictions imposed, that has had the least effect on us since the one for Carcassonne is 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Sadly, but completely understandable, open air markets have been banned. Prior to the arrival of Covid-19, the highlight of our Saturday morning was to get our weekly fresh fruits and vegetables from the market set up on the main square. There we would stand, shoulder-to-shoulder with other shoppers making our selections from large home gardens, family farms, orchards just outside of town, or even larger operations not far south of us in Spain. As with most of the other people there, we always ran into people we knew so of course that meant hugs, handshakes, and/or kisses to the cheek. With an average of 40 vendors and probably 1000 customers there at any one time, the decision to suspend the marché was inevitable.
So, has everything come to a halt? Not exactly. Many of our friends who work are able to do so via the Internet from home. We can’t have parties so at Happy Hour we raise a glass with our neighbors from our house across the street to theirs. For food shopping on foot, our neighborhood has 3 greengrocers, a supermarket, a wine shop, a butcher, a baker…well, you get the idea. An artisan chocolate shop in town will deliver just-dipped goodies to your front door. For entertainment, several TV movie channels are now free as is access to online magazines, books, and music. We can still go out for a short walk but I prefer our courtyard with the daffodils pictured above.
To put things into perspective, I saw this comment comparing the current confinement situation with the last time that French residents were required to stay indoors during Nazi occupation: “Our grandparents were asked to go to war. We’ve been asked to stay on our sofas.”
With not a lot going on, I’m not sure when the next blog post will be. I could say “until further notice” but I prefer a literal and perhaps more optimistic translation of those French words at the beginning of today’s post, jusqu’à nouvel ordre, “until a new order”. While we wait for that new order to arrive, stay healthy!