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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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