Social distancing, Weeks 3 & 4

JO_Colza-01559Colza fields in Vaud, Switzerland. April 2020.

We’ve been in this social distancing mode for 4 weeks now. Routine has settled in and it is mostly about working and taking care of the baby. It sounds monotonous, and to my 16 year old self it would be hellish, but it really is not. Even though having a baby means constant interruptions, I feel more productive at home and my work is all about constant learning. Baby O. is learning new things every day, and getting to see her build on her constantly improving skills is truly fascinating. No wonder Piaget spent so much time and drew so many insights just from studying his children.

Much like fellow privileged people of my generation, I am leading a comfortable life working from home and a large part of my time is spent cooking and baking. I’ve been baking sourdough bread for a while now, and my production has intensified so much, I’ve actually worked through my flour stash. I’ve also been cooking a lot from my cookbooks, which has been pleasing and fun.

Cooking two meals, breakfast and snacks for three adults and a baby is quite an endeavour. We try to keep grocery shopping to a minimum, but each time I go, it seems like I’m bringing the whole grocery store with me. Once, the cashier asked me how many children I had. I didn’t have the courage to say it was just a baby, so I said two (my sister is kind of my baby, even though she’s well into her twenties, no?). Another time, I found myself hiking up to my house with 20kg of bags hanging off my back and arms. Trying to limit our big chain supermarket incursions, we’ve been buying more vegetables from the nearby farmer’s market. We already did that often, but now it’s a well ingrained habit which we will keep.

With confinement, the Internet has been going crazy! There are free online classes for everything, open access to e-books, concerts, magazines, not to mention the thousands of films and series you can stream. There are Instagram lives with humourists that everyone is raving about. It’s an interesting time to be logged on, but it’s also overwhelming for a household with limited sleep schedules, working from home, and all the stuff that goes on with a baby in tow.

So, we’ve been more present. Even if we are still in the lucky group that is not forbidden to go outside, we don’t take this for granted and we’ve been really careful. This means that we don’t drive to new places to walk or hike, even though it’s tempting with the warm, spring weather and that it can be boring to walk on the same route everyday. We stick to it, because there are large paths, there are no crowds and we can walk for 5km without crossing more than a handful of people.

However, the mind craves novelty. Walking the same route every day, I’ve felt that I’ve been paying more attention to the blossoming flowers on the streets, the colza fields blooming in the last few weeks, the sound of millions of bees buzzing in the yellow colza flowers if the wind is in one direction, and how we only hear the motorway if the wind is in the other direction. We’ve crossed the same people for a few days now: the pregnant lady who goes for a walk with her family or by herself, the old couple with the man who takes picture and the woman who carries a bench and sits around, catching sun. I imagine their stories. We say bonjour and we carry on. I smile at baby O. and do silly things that make her laugh. Sometimes, she is asleep and I will listen to the occasional podcast.

I really couldn’t care less about many of the things that are going on in the fascinating world of the internet and I like that I am more focused, present and satisfied with our present. I think this is a habit that I would also like to keep.

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