Thursday, November 19, 2020

Walking out of Lockdown

It was the simplest of decisions. Instead of turning right, as I always did at the Porte Saint Dominique, I turned left. Within these three years of living in Avignon, I have never walked that particular path lining the 14th century fortified walls. But the light beckoned and if I have held tight to one important rule, it is to follow the light whenever you can. Roll in it, may it heat you, let it stun your eyes.

This second lockdown feels both ambiguously different and yet numbingly the same. But admittedly, having an idea of what to expect has been truly helpful. I know where my pitfalls lie but also how to divert them. While staying very safe, I stretch the laws when needed, just as I pay attention to any back brain whispers before they hurl into tantrum howls. For I can't let myself go back to that first set state, one that scared me (says one experienced with depression). And yes, I had happily begun to claw my way upwards exactly when this quarantine was announced. 

After a few weeks of feeling pitched at sea, I inhaled deeply and dug out my old tool box, which has served me well in days gone by. Within are items that remain a part of my daily routine, such as making gratitude lists. But I have also made a "schedule" of such quintessential tips as "make bed immediately, change out of pyjamas." It is written in black ink with large loopy letters and is displayed prominently. Delightfully, I am rediscovering others that I haven't touched in years, such as three pages worth of journalling in the morning before that Pavlovian reach for my phone. It feels so comforting to write while knowing that no one will ever see my scrawly wanderings, my thundershow doubts. I do well to not think before I put the pen to paper. "Just go, Heather," I tell myself instead. "Go." 

It feels the same on my daily walk. As with the previous quarantine, we are allotted one hour per day and are allowed to stray no farther than one kilometre beyond our habitation (I have personally decided to define that as a radius, which offers innumerable possibilities). Yes, we need to have a signed "attestation" at the ready, although I must say that I do not see police patrols now. None at all. Regardless, I move. In the beginning, I could handle no more than a lumbering stroll. My lungs are still achey from being sick in March, whether it was indeed COVID, or not. But with time, I find that my pace is increasing in spite of my intentions. My feet dance in a straight line. I feel hungry to be outside of my own four walls and while I have no desire to think, it feels so delightful just to see. Just that, to see.

And so back we go to the left-hand turn. The light is at its peak - a dripping honey that edges towards amber. It clings to the cream stone rempart walls, pulling out each crevice, including the mysterious symbols left behind by each stone-cutter as a means to get paid. So much history, resting solidly, darkened only by the shadows of the last-leaved trees and pedestrians stretched out like spaghetti on their meander towards home.

Again, I don't know this territory, not at close range and so every few paces leads to a clip "aha" as well as the occasional pause to pull out my phone. The non-existent "click." I am used to people looking at me questioningly, wondering what on earth I am trying to capture. Later in my walk, an elderly woman bangs the shutter at her windows purposefully as I fixed upon the scrabbled layers of paint on her building. It was as if to say, "Off you go, you have no business here." 

Ah, but you see? I do. I most certainly do. Every single second that I am rooted in the present - not shadow-pulled towards the past or worrying about an impossible future - keeps me sane. Or at least largely so. This is what freedom feels like. Just to walk and breathe. La liberté that no quarantine can steal. My heart beating, drenched in the warm light of autumn, heals me and holds me like nothing else can. 

On we go. 
My goodness, it is complicated. 
One day at a time.
With Love and infinite Gratitude, 
Stay safe. Be well. Be kind,


Ps. Well this is a bit odd...a little of one-hand clapping. But. Unfortunately, it makes me rather sad. It would appear that Mailchimp suspended my account without any way to recover it. So it would appear that from several thousands, you, my friends are now in several hundreds at most to get notifications of posts. If I am not mistaken, it seems as though only those of you who have a Google or Blogger account are contacted. If anyone wants to chime in about this, please go ahead.
And better yet, if anyone has truly solid advice as to how to get me onto another platform without losing ten years of posts (I am petrified), I would be happy to listen.

Bisous. xo


  1. Thank you for the gorgeous images. And don't you want to be on that scull, gliding on top of the water? Yes, here we are again, in the states, holding our collective breath (most of us anyway) until sanity and intelligence returns to the White House. You are right, the only way to get past this is to walk through .... safely. Karina and I do a 45-50 minute walk each morning with a bit of intermittent jogging to get my heart going. So we'll think of you and your walk tomorrow as we go. xxoo

    1. That is so wonderful to know that I will be in your thoughts. I wish that I was there with you (except for the jogging part). Yes, that woman on the water was soooo graceful and strong. Impressive! Yep, on we go. Breathe...xo

    2. Wish you were with us too. Jogging not mandatory -; xo

  2. The world is weird right now. Thank you for putting some light into it.

    1. As you always do with your posts on Insta. Grateful for you. bisous

  3. Here in Canada I am planning for the future. In this old farm house there is always a project to tackle I am up grading my upstairs to perhaps start an air b+b next summer.
    I’ve started with laying new flooring in the small attic spaces. And with any old house reno I’ve run into an unforeseen dilemma. Soooo I’ve replaced the insulation,and fashioned custom venting. Next I will refinish a funky wood bed frame, reupholster a wicker love seat and paint.
    I sleep late and have eased up on my regular cooking habits. I graze more and take massive quantities of Vitamin C and D.
    I walk in the woods in the morning, this is the thing that keeps me calm and grounded. I work in the afternoon.
    The anxiety surfaces mostly in the evenings. So I grab a book. Right now I’m reading Jane Urquhart. Love her writing.
    Be well
    Be Calm
    Be Safe

  4. You've captured the magical autumn light perfectly. Your photos are stunning. Wish I could give you some advice about another platform but I am in the same dilemma myself.

  5. Outstanding photos that most definitely capture the autumn light. A daily walk is important, providing a very good calming and balancing impact. You truly are living in a magical place. Lockdown has many challenges, that said we are all doing the best we can. Stay well and be safe.

  6. Your post came as a blessing this morning. I will continue to write in my journal, acknowledge my blessings, no matter how small they might seem. a pair of robins at the feeder, a cup of tea, some grilled bread and cheese. My walks are more ordinary, but even in these there is pleasure, and I do find myself going in another in another direction sometimes, even though I wonder if I would be welcome in neighborhoods not my own in these strange times. Darby

  7. My life has been tipped upside down and everything has had to change, right now we are in a holding pattern waiting for my husband to heal. And Covid makes a holding pattern even stranger. There is a we’re all in this together feeling of emptiness and loneliness. I can’t seem to cook but I’m closer to real friends than before. This cocoon life is strange, there is a lot of beauty in the isolation. Your words are always very important to me and often resonate. I was so glad you took up writing again. Unfortunately I’m one of those who don’t get notifications anymore. Luckily I follow you on Instagram, I wait a few days then look you up myself to read what you have to say. Adelaide is a magical Covid place. We had the worlds toughest lockdown last week for 6 days...only it was based on a lie and lasted a day and a half...cannot imagine the mental affects of going through this twice. Good luck much love and keep searching for beauty.

  8. I gasped at the beauty of the bridge reflected in the water. And then again at the sculler, for a different reason. I've started rowing again, but indoors, with a machine, because it's what's available now. Great overall exercise, highly recommended. And it hadn't occurred to silly me there would be kindred souls over there. Getting out on the water again is something to look forward to, post-lockdown.


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