Despite President Macron's advice to people over 70 asking us to stay indoors as much as possible, I went to the supermarket yesterday. As I left home at about 10 a.m., I told Walt that if I found the parking lot over at Intermarché really full of cars, I might chicken out and just come back home. I had the impression that I was going out into a contamination zone — a nuclear winter, or a cloud of pestilence. I still feel like I should read Albert Camus's classic La Peste again. I must have a copy somewhere in the house.
At Intermarché, there were plenty of parking spaces in the lot, however, so I parked, got out of the car, wiped down the handles of a shopping cart with an alcohol-soaked moist towelette (une lingette désinfectante), and ventured inside. The shelves were well stocked, and the number of shoppers seemed about normal for a Saturday morning. It's ironic that our weather is finally improving — it's definitely warmer and slightly less rainy than it has been for months — right when the recommendation to "self-isolate" has taken effect. In the supermarket, at first I was hesitant to touch anything unless I was sure I was going to buy it, for fear of getting infected by the "novel" (what does that mean, anyway?) coronavirus.
But soon I was shopping as I usually do, examining the products I was interested in and reading labels. I was consciously trying to avoid touching my face. There were quite a few people my age or older wandering around the store, filling up their shopping carts. I didn't see anybody wearing a mask. People's carts were overflowing with supplies, as I mine was starting to be, but there was no particular feeling of panic in the air. Everybody was polite and even cheerful. I was here to buy things we had realized we needed: bread and brioche for the freezer, pet food, boxes of kleenex, wine, salad greens, cheese, cans of beans, coffee, cream, carrots, sliced ham, and so on. Our freezers are well stocked with meats and vegetables. I spent 100 euros, and the man ahead of me in the checkout line spent 200.
Walt and I figure we won't be going out in public again for at least a week. We'll just have to monitor the situation by watching the news on TV and on the 'net. In Paris, the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, Eiffel Tower, and Palais de Versailles are shut down until further notice (jusqu'à nouvel ordre). Around here, the big Beauval zoo, with its giant pandas, white tigers, orangutans, and manatees, is staying open so far, as are the châteaux at Chambord, Cheverny, Chenonceaux, etc. At this time of year, and given the current viral situation, I can't imagine that such attractions will see big crowds arriving to take tours. Across France, all the schools are closed now, including the universities.
We are lucky to have the vineyard just outside our back gate for our daily walks with Natasha. We seldom see anybody out there, and we can take a mile-long walk without fear of catching anything more than wet feet and maybe a few raindrops on our glasses' lenses. Walt is glad he decided to go to Albany back in February, and I'm glad I went to North Carolina last October. We don't know when we'll go back to the U.S. again. We're wondering whether friends from California who are planning to come see us in June and in September will actually be able to travel then. I'm trying not to be too alarmist.
And I'm glad we are living in France now. If I were still living in America, I'd be very depressed by the prospect of not being able to come spend time in France whenever I wanted to or could afford the trip. I've been very lucky for the past 15+ years to be able to make the trip back "home" to see friends and family in N.C. on an annual basis, or even more frequently when I needed to be there. The travel gets harder and harder with every passing year. For my sanity, I'm better off here than there, and for my physical well-being I'm better off not flying back and forth so often.
I was going to post about my latest kale crop today, but now that I've written this post, I'll just save the kale post and photos for tomorrow. I'm decorating this post with a couple of photos I've taken on recent mornings, including one showing that Italian platter I put cheese on for photos the other day. I believe we bought the platter in New York City back in the 1980s. We used to have a matching serving bowl, but it got cracked and we left it behind when we moved to France in 2003.