Mid-March, 2020, the evening sky was on fire. An impressive backdrop to a Europe that was sliding into lockdown to counter the coronavirus epidemic. A month later, many of us are suffering, if not through serious illness or even death of our loved ones, through loss of jobs, impending loss of jobs, and financial problems if they are self employed or employers and their business has been forced to shut down. Elderly people are being deprived of visits by their loved ones: for their own protection, true, but with resultant loneliness and loss of focus or purpose.
That’s just the immediate present. We have no idea what the future has in hold. How long the lockdown will last, although the general idea is that we can’t afford to keep going much longer like this before society goes bankrupt, many people run out of funds and, instead of hundreds and thousands being killed by the virus, we will start to have people dying of poverty or through criminality and mayhem generated by desperation. So, we will probably have to reach a trade-off, through partial easing of the lockdown, between people dying of the disease and keeping a semblance of a working society. Maintain several precautions: prohibition of gatherings of people, maintenance of the rule of social distancing, enforcing teleworking where this is possible, opening up shops with limits on customers per square metre… taking any measure that may help prevent spread of the virus, until whenever a safe vaccine becomes available. Next year? It’s looking like we’re in this for the medium to long haul.
In the meantime, should I feel guilty about secretly enjoying the lockdown? I’m one of the lucky ones. I can telework, so my wages are, until now, safe. I’ve got a comfortable house and the members of my household are in more or less a similar situation. We’re lucky, too, that the Belgian government recognises that the population’s health, in addition to avoidance of the spread of contagion, also includes general physical and mental well-being that may only be achieved through exercise outdoors. We are therefore allowed, ‘even encouraged’, to go out for walks, jogging or cycling while observing social distancing.
Our Easter holiday plans, this year, originally consisted of a trip to Zadar in Croatia followed by a cycling long weekend on the island of Texel in north Holland. All cancelled, of course. Instead, we’re taking our holiday in a comfortable house with a south facing terrace and garden in Overijse, Belgium. Well equipped kitchen with all facilities, non-smoking, TV, WiFi reception, garage included, three bedrooms, shared bathroom, barbecue facility… Our own home. The weather has been fantastic, too.
Our excursions during this prescribed holiday are limited to within a few kilometres’ radius. Not that this has prevented me from, occasionally, coming to a sudden halt in my cycling or walking to take a beautiful picture and share it with others. Like this one in Tervuren Park…
Or, walking through a humble footpath – Molenstraat – close to our previous rented house in Hoeilaart…
Yesterday, I chose to walk the whole distance of my old standard 10 km training run from my home towards Jezus Eik into the Arboretum wood and back. In my running days, this would take me about 55 to 58 minutes. Back problems prevent me from running nowadays, so I walk or cycle instead. At my walking pace, it takes up exactly 2 hours of introspection plus a few thousand pixels from my phone camera…
So, the meanderings of this wanderer are, for the time being, limited to the immediate surroundings. It’s an opportunity to appreciate said immediate surroundings. Too often, we set out to explore places thousands of kilometres away while ignoring our own, not so bad looking home. Not in the spring of 2020, though.
Until (if ever) some day we go back to normal, further meanderings can only consist of memories. I’m lucky in this, too. I have a large collection of pictures and places visited that never made it into this blog.
I look forward to sharing these with you, dear reader.