Monday, March 30, 2020

Day 14 - Corona Virus in France - Staying Protected, Family time & Solidarity in the country

We are starting week 3 of homeschooling/distance learning and we are finishing our second week of strict confinement.  The girls have returned back to my house, after spending a week at their father's house and life continues.. or our new Corona virus life.
Not sure if the cat is thrilled to have everyone around 24/7 ,,
Our days are filled with cleaning the house, cooking meals, sharing jokes among friends and neighbors and various mini projects.  The garden looks lovely and neat - rooms have gone through a big Spring cleaning.  We all have probably received those ideas, those videos of all the fun things one can do as a family during lockdown....the reality - no one is too overly ambitious.  There is a fair amount of surfing the internet, hanging on the couch and watching films or TV series.  

We have enjoyed a couple virtual aperos via zoom with our neighbors and friends - it feels so nice to catch up!!! Zoom seems to be our new best friend - allowing video conferencing between friends.

With teenage girls - they enjoy their time in their rooms, watching Netflix movies and series and exchanging with their friends.  We do hang out all together but I also know they enjoy their private time too.   Meal times  are our together time and this has always been our favorite time as a family.  Maybe because they are all in the same place at the same  Saturday night, I decided we would have "make your own pizza night" - I made pizza dough and put out toppings and off they went....

It was definitely a fun time and lightened the mood a bit.  The weather has turned a bit colder.  We have had a very mild March and this week it has been forecasted to be cold and rainy.  But it's back to routine today. Classes and school work for the girls.

Our strict confinement has been officially extended until minimally April 15.  Again in France, we can only go out of our homes with our official statement and only for necessities.  The idea is to stay in - stay at home.  Protect ourselves and protect others, only exit when totally necessary.  We did go out food shopping again last Friday - back to our supermarket.  It's still surreal - so quiet and orderly.  It was less stressful this time, as we knew what was going to happen, how we would have to wait, how they only let a certain number of people in the store at the same time.  Little conversation, and everyone keeps their distance.

The reality of this is we all live with a certain level of stress - watching the number of cases increase each day, hearing unfortunately about the number of deaths per day. France has not hit the peak yet - they are predicting that it will be in about 5-7 days - but that's just prediction - we will see with real numbers.  For me there is added stress of watching this whole epidemic play out in the US where all my family and friends live.  Every country handles this differently and in the US - every state is handling this differently. It's all very overwhelming at times.

Here in France - the hardest hit areas are the "Grand Est" -North East and Eastern France and now, Paris.  Where we live, it's been one of the less hit areas - we still have cases, they are still increasing but other areas of France have many more.  Hospitals in the harder hit areas are filling up - patients in severe distress.  There is a shortage of beds in these areas.  In the town of Mulhouse, the French army has installed an army hospital to serve more patients.  They are also moving patients by a military medical plane across France to areas like the Nouvelle Aquitaine or other lesser hit regions.

We actually had the military plane fly over our home last Friday. (We live 10 minutes from the airport) - It was huge and very loud as it brought the first patients to hospitals in our area.  France has also chosen to medicalized and equipe 2 TGV trains for transporting patients from these hard hit areas to other areas of France.  We also had one of these trains arrive yesterday in Bordeaux.  The coordination efforts of these maneuvers is huge and the medical teams that travel with these patients - dedication.  It's amazing to read about, but sad at the same time.  

Like other countries France is facing a shortage of masks, hand gel and even respirators.  Companies have gone into 24 hours production to turn out more masks for health care professionals.  Other companies have altered their production from one product to start making sanitizing gel and even respirators.  One has to look beyond the drama of everyday news to find inspiring stories like these.  People and companies who are helping out in their own way.  

We have farmers offering baskets of food to hospitals and health care workers, Oyster farmers delivering trays of Oysters to hospitals.  Grocery stores that have dedicated lines to give these professionals priority.  The towns offer school and child care for children of health care professions. Companies refitting and reorganizing production to help with the medical supply shortage.  Designer houses - changing their production - all towards helping during this crisis.

As there is more and more concern about how contagious this virus really is -some health care professionals are choosing not to return home to their families out of protection.  Many hotels have offered free rooms.  There is definitely an outpouring of humanity.  To watch the country come together in solidarity is humbling.  As in other countries, each night at 8pm, people gather at their windows and balconies to applaud these hard-working health care professionals.   (Where we live, it's harder to hear - as we are on a residential street in the suburbs with houses and yards -and many lots are deep with one house sitting in front of other.  It's not the same as living on a city street).

It's these acts that give hope, hope to all of us that we will make it through this time.  News from China indicates that they are now able to exit their homes, go to work and now shops and restaurants are re-opening.  They are the hope, the model, the place to look - but remember - they built new hospitals, they had to generate new materials also.  We didn't necessarily pay close attention, but we are all living the same experience now.  

As we look at minimum another 15 days of strict confinement, I think toward the future - to a month or two  from now when this will be behind us - when life returns to normal - or perhaps a new kind of normal.  

In the meantime, I want to continue to share our lovely area - so full of life and beauty.  Here are some lovely scenes of the Dordogne River - at the port of Libourne one morning last Fall.  I love the fog - a nice symbol for our experience now, it will eventually lift and our life will return again.

Wishing everyone well -  Stay safe.

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