The ground is shifting beneath our feet. We find ourselves quarantined in France.
Sorrow and joy are inextricably woven together. I alternate between sadness for what’s happening in the world and deep gratitude for life. Spring has arrived on the estate with a riotous fanfare of sights, sounds and smells. The trees burst into their blossoms and fresh green leaves, the birds burst into their song. Despite the sweet cacophony of the new season I have never known such stillness here. Perhaps it’s the total absence of ambient noise. Or has that voice in my head – the pesky, critical one that keeps me restless and agitated – finally been silenced?
A yellow bucket abandoned in haste on the roof of the bakery is awaiting the return of the father and son who are restoring the old oven. Our renovation projects have abruptly come to a halt as the artisans cannot work during the confinement. During the day, Thomas and I bury ourselves in work which we can do ourselves. With normal life suspended, it feels right to keep close to nature. So, we chop wood, dig up bramble roots from the fields, and we finally got around to connecting the basin to a natural source. I feel grounded as we take care of this treasured land: the trees offer their trunks in support and extend their branches in a tender embrace.
When the sun sets, the house beckons. We’re wanted on the terrace to watch the skies. Next, inside for quiet and contemplation. The tender light of the golden hour makes everything more beautiful than ever, dropping us in the grace of the present moment. All the objects in the house remind us of our travels and connect us to friends and family in confinement across the world. The art on the walls whispers words of consolation, reminding us of humanity’s boundless creativity and resilience. We just sit by the fire and allow ourselves to surrender to our ambivalent feelings: gratitude, happines and sadness alike.
Take care of yourself. Take care of each other.
Art by Ton van Kints - Koekoeksnest gepolderd + gearceerd l, 2010.