COVID-19 France Quarantine: In the Middle Before We Had Begun

June 19, 2021

Filed in: C'est la Vie

Covid-19 France Quarantine: Part 2 in the countryside. Quarantine became more bearable as the weather warms. The weathered stone of the cottage, though charming, was poor insulation. Although, at least it kept out the rain. There were many a tempest as I had never experienced before. Thunder, lighting, the most ominous skies.

Left: A young French boy rides his bicycle down a dirt road in the countryside during the COVID 19 quarantine in France. Right: A bare willow tree stands overrun by mistletoe in a lush green field in the French countryside.

The Storm

One evening, we tucked ourselves into bed as thunder rumbled from a distance. The rain pounded on the tiled roof (which, I’m pretty sure, was the original tile, and if not, it was still vintage, at the very least). In the middle of the night, I awoke to the sound of rain dancing on the roof — not a slow dance, but rather the the frantic pounding of a frenzied tap dancer as the music crescendos.

A flowering pear tree stands next to a gently leafing willow tree in the French countryside.

Light flashed in my eyes. For a moment, I thought C was turning on the lights. I pulled the comforter from my eyes, and in the darkness could just make out the sound and sight of the swinging bedroom door. “Marissa!!” he whisper-shouted.

Coaxed out of bed, we walked to his room, which was illuminated by the largest zaps of lighting my California eyes had ever beheld. The wind and rain blew ferociously as tree branches swayed dangerously in the wind. Thunder cracked as lightning flashed; the storm seemed to be right above us as we watched nature’s light show in wonder.

Left: The neighboring donkey grazes on grass. Right: A young boy's sweater and jeans are covered in mud from working in the garden at the French country cottage.

Suddenly, the master bedroom door swung open as his father roughly pulled us from the window. Not realizing it was me instead of C’s middle sister, he apologized but sternly reprimanded us for standing by the window. I was not countrified enough to know that it was a mortal danger in a storm.

Quietly, we crept back into bed and let the rain lull us to sleep.

Black and white image. A young French boy stands in the shade of a flowering pear tree in the springtime during the COVID 19 quarantine in France.

The Jane Austen Field

Slowly, the weather improved, the number of days the sky was disgruntled diminished and gave way to sun and some rather nasty humidity. The amount of times I sneezed was atrocious, and the dreamy Jane Austen field (the rather large sprawl of land next to the house, owned by a local farmer) became unbearable.

The Jane Austen field was one of the first things I had noticed as we turned onto the unpaved, nearly dirt road. Lush and minty-green, it recalled to my mind the field across which walk Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy in the 2005 adaptation of my favorite book. Although, I quickly realized on our first jaunt that it was not as romantic as it seemed.

Left: A young boy holds a rubber bow and arrow set. Right: Two siblings tromp through an overgrown field with their arms slung over each other's shoulders.

Wearing my trusty (though at this point, terribly leaky) pink rain boots, the evening we arrived to the cottage I followed C and V into the field, to be met with an evening dew that seeped its way into my socks much more quickly than anticipated. Having only romantic, Jane Austen notions in my head, I was wholly unprepared for the cobwebs, bugs, bumps, and uneven terrain that had me terrified I’d re-break my ankle.

If that was not enough to dissuade me, the arrival of spring effectively ended any possible chance that I would willingly frolic there. The pollen, or something, was so intense, that after a mid-afternoon run (only to keep up with my charges), I found that I was sneezing horribly; my eyes and nose were running pitifully; and I sounded a bit like Edna Mode — minus the confidence, but all the nasal qualities.

A young French boy hangs upside-down in a hammock.

I swore off (and was excused from) ever entering the field again….only to eventually find myself exuberantly traipsing after butterflies with C. The field seemed to attract an awful lot of them.

The Amusements

Thankfully, the field was not our only source of amusement. I must have tried every single (European) sport imaginable, short of real football. Archery, rugby, cross country, pétanque, croquet…even baseball — improvised with a stick too slender and a tennis ball — were on the agenda. Some were more to my despair than others, and it was the most active I had ever been in my life. If you know me, then you won’t laugh (or maybe you will) to know that I preferred swinging in the hammock. Though, C managed to turn that into its own adventure, as we often pretended to be riding choppy waters. But overall, I was reasonably happy. The company was most pleasant, and we were all making do with what it was.

Left: A young French boy drags two large tree branches behind him through an overgrown field in the countryside. Right: The garden table is strewn with cups of apple juice and a plank of break and rillettes.

Perhaps the best thing about the warming weather was eating dinners (and lunches!) outside nearly every day. The chillier evenings saw us gather around the massive fireplace, where we cooked a good bit. The most stressful moment of my life there was being responsible for pulling the nearly-burned magret de canard off the roaring fire as the flames leapt, licking the fat. We laughed after that.

Charles’ birthday came and went, and mine was rapidly on the horizon. I was feeling a sense of dread, turning 23. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

This is the third installment in photographs from the COVID-19 France quarantine. In a series of posts, I’ll be sharing the progression of the seasons as we hunkered down in Normandy. Click here for the previous installment.

Full sun shines on the stone French country cottage and the garden table set for lunch.

A small butterfly rests on the finger of a young boy who is sitting on the grass.

Black and white image of a young boy sitting amongst the tall grasses in a field in the French countryside.

A child prepares to swing his croquet mallet during a match.

A young boy hauls two large tree branches through a grassy field in the French countryside.

Left: A young boy wearing a blue button-up collects daisies in the grass. Right: A flowering tree towers over the small and narrow country road.

A young boy carries two large tree branches through a grassy field in the French countryside.

I am a San Francisco Bay Area (and soon Birmingham, AL) film photographer specializing in the floral portrait, children, love stories, and (personal) brands. I’m also always ready to photograph destination portraits in Paris & Provence! Want to work together? Get in touch! I’d love to know your story. If you need fine art prints & posters to decorate your home, check out my print shop.

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Paris & California strolls; plenty of flowers; stories; and looking for the beauty in the everyday. I hope you'll come along as I take the year to document the entirety of my home state!

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