Various countries, Belgium included, are taking their first tentative steps towards de-confinement. The steps are, indeed, timid. That’s unless you consider the terrible din created by hordes of “sport” motorcyclists, recently unleashed onto our roads. General road traffic is also making a comeback, alas. As far as I can notice from here, it’s the only tangible effect of the start of the “return to normal”.

This calls for a bitter, sarcastic laugh. If this is normal, then please give me back the abnormal. At least that was quiet and the roads were safe.

One interesting effect of the lockdown has been that we’ve begun to have more contact with our neighbours. One of the nicer chaps who lives in my street yesterday pointed out to me, from a safe social distance, that we can’t take it for granted that we’re going to discover a coronavirus vaccine. He mentioned HIV and the ever-mutating common cold as examples. I wasn’t even depressed at this observation. We’ve been in this for about two months now and, with each passing day, we’re gradually resigning ourselves to this new normal.

To me it seems that, in the mid-term future, we’ll move to the middle ground between the full lockdown of the past two months and the freedom that we had before. Which implies that we won’t be totally free, and that by itself is already a terrible blow. Imagine going to a restaurant wearing a mask. I’d much prefer stay at home.

This brings me to the main theme of this blog. This wanderer’s range of motion has been severely curtailed. Yesterday I received my latest monthly Google Maps review. My first, timid, venture into this humble new world. Instead of various spots along the Dalmatian coast in Croatia, the southernmost Frisian island in the north of Holland, called Texel, and Malta for good measure along with various interesting spots inside Belgium, as had been my plan for this crazy spring of 2020, my Google Maps timeline was adorned with one marker on Hoeilaart and another one on Tervuren. Overijse’s two neighbouring communes, the farthest we’re allowed to venture for “daily exercise”. We’re now living under a dictatorial regime headed by the Coronavirus Party.

Fortunately, I do still wander – but less far afield – and much of our immediate surroundings are not ugly at all. For the time being, at least, I’ll just have to satisfy myself with these immediate surroundings and, much like the rest of the population in general, with reminiscences of past, glorious times. It’s funny, isn’t it, how the awful, stressful, problematic world of the very recent past has now become our new utopia.

I’m this weekend quite excited about the fact that I’ve joined the local Hoeilaart table-tennis club, hoping that by August we’ll have reached the middle-ground partial freedom mentioned earlier (and that my feeble back can take the strain…). I wonder. Will I be allowed to shake my opponent’s hand at the end of a match?

In the featured image above, the camera lens turns to the sky during a walk inside the Tervuren-Overijse Arboretum. We can include this in the count of our blessings. The sky is a long range view that we can still contemplate, now also devoid of aircraft.

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P.S. Following three other pieces in a similar vein, this one could be entitled “Reflections under lockdown (4)”. There’s no risk of running out of numbers, but I changed it in recognition of the fact that, for this wanderer and for this blog, in addition to reminiscences on past epic trips, much in line with what’s happening in the wider world, such musings are becoming an important aspect of this new normal.

 

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