Five Weeks

Posted on: 18 Apr 2020

17th April. Five weeks since that Friday 13th when the net closed in on a shrinking world, effectively limiting our radius of movement to the distance, there and back, that can be covered on foot. Switzerland's lockdown being less stringent and specific than that of some other European countries, theoretically there is nothing to stop me getting on a bus or train and going somewhere else. Nothing but the twin restraints of fear and guilt, and the continuing admonitions to 'Stay at home!', 'Stay local!' etc. I love my balcony. I love the Bireggwald (as do lots of other people, unfortunately). I truly am grateful for what I have. But the weather is gorgeous, the snow has melted, and I am missing my mountain walks so much!

I see it everywhere, even within the confines of home: people standing on their balconies, gazing longingly into the distance; the old lady from the next block nordic-walking up and down the strip of grass behind the house, afraid to chance her usual round on the road; J getting irritable because, like me, he is missing the mountains. So many plans, all on hold.

We do now have provisional dates on the road back to 'normal'. The lockdown, originally till 19th April, has been extended a week, but as of 27th April, supermarkets will be allowed to stock things other than food and essentials, and a few businesses will be opened up, including garden centres. (Alleluia, I can buy compost at last! - if there's any left.....) May 11th provisionally sees a further relaxation, and June 8th another. Sports events and other potentially large gatherings are on hold until August at the earliest. Nowhere are restaurants mentioned, and borders remain closed. We really are in this for the long term,   aren't we?

The thing is, 'normal' is not 'as it was before'. Mindset has undergone a shift. Anxiety has become ingrained, caution an automatic response. How long till I can get on a bus or train again without giving it a second thought? How long will it be till spontaneity returns, till we stop avoiding people, till our lives are truly 'normal'?

I am luckier than many. I am retired, so do not have the problem of work to deal with. J works from home anyway, so that is much as normal too (though I am nervous for him when he has to go out on site visits etc.) There are no children to keep occupied. Our local shopping centre has 4 (yes, FOUR!) supermarkets, and has never yet run out of supplies. I shop every 7 - 10 days, and J goes to the bakery. As I said, the situation is less rigid here, relying more on common sense and sense of duty than on draconian regulations and prohibitions. I have a degree of freedom, even if it's mostly theoretical. But I do have days when I feel constrained, imprisoned, just plain down. Days of frenetic domestic activity, or reading for hours, others when I feel I can't be bothered to do ANYTHING. Does it help to know that these feelings are shared, even universal? - maybe it does. If nothing else, this crisis may foster greater empathy.

This was going to be a roundup of recent outings, but it can wait. They (and I) are not going anywhere........

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