September, Fall….And Hope?
It’s the first week of September and the first drops of rain (in over a month) have just fallen.
The garden is breathing a collective sigh of relief, the parched ground singing as precious moisture eases into its crevices and coats the burnt leaves of trees all around. It’s the start of the season change, and as the weather alters, everything seems to move with it.
Kids are back in school (the big “rentrée“) so lakes and towns are empty again. Working folks are also back in offices, albeit with masks and social distancing rules in place (the new 2020 norm). And campgrounds are slowing down, although things are still bustling all along the coast where the sea of summer kids has been replaced by an equally eager wave of white-haired folks. It’s “retiree travel month” in France, the last hurrah before camps close for the winter season. Even a pandemic it seems, isn’t putting an end to that.
Plus of course the Tour de France has started. It was delayed this year (for obvious reasons), so now the experiment is happening this month instead of the usual time in July. We’re still doing our best to stay virus-free so we haven’t been to watch any of the cyclists in person, like we did last year (the tour actually passed very close to us yesterday), but we’re enjoying the daily transmissions on TV. It comes as a soothing bit of “normality” in an otherwise very strange year.
And with that, comes a beacon of hope…
There’s A Change In The Air
The change in the air is palpable, and it’s not just in the weather or the Tour.
Everyone is still worried about COVID-19 of course, wondering how schools will manage, uncertain about their work and their futures. But there’s also a tinge of something else behind it….dare I say hope? Despite hitting a record number of infection cases in France, hospitalizations and deaths remain low, and that’s a bright ray of light on an otherwise very dark horizon.
Personally I think the numbers reflect changes in the way we are approaching the virus.
A lot more tests are being carried out now (in fact, hundreds of thousands more than back in March), so we’re managing to catch way more infections, much, much earlier. It means our numbers are higher, but it also make them less deadly, percentage-wise. Plus right now it’s predominantly the younger population that are getting infected, reflecting a summer of mingling & partying, again (hopefully) resulting in a less deadly outcome. As for the older folks, I do believe the French mask policy is working, as is our understanding of the virus itself.
And we really do understand more….
Perhaps one of the most interesting articles I’ve read recently was a study of data from ~17,000 genetic samples crunched by the Summit supercomputer in TN , leading to something called the bradykinin hypothesis. If proved true, it would explain a lot of the deadlier symptoms of COVID-19, including fluid build-up (in the lungs), heart, nervous system & brain issues. That understanding should in turn lead to better (more effective) treatments. It’s early days, but IMO it’s hopeful stuff.
I have no illusions about avoiding a 2nd wave (it’s coming whether we like it or not), but perhaps with on-going vigilance and science maybe, just maybe it won’t be as bad as the first one?
We can hope….
Apple & Figs Are Coming Into Season
The other change on the horizon is our new crop of autumn fruits.
‘Tis the season for apples, and perhaps more importantly figs. The latter actually grow wild here, in grand bushes all along the roadside. We have a massive tree on our property and probably around 20 more within walking distance around the neighborhood. It’s a crazy, sweet, dense fruit that also seems quite fancy at the same time. A combination of luxury and sugar rush all in one.
Everyone gets into them here, including the local fauna. I surprised the neighbors cow herd munching their way through a roadside bush the other day. We had a moment of crazy-eyed contact, as the lead cow (main bovine?) stared me down in a sugar-induced high. If you’ve never seen a cow on figs, just imagine a 2-year old after a bag of candy, and add-on about 1000 lbs. As you might imagine, I decided to turn around and walk the other way….
As for apples, we’ve got plenty of those too. Our trees are heavy with fruit, as is the local market where they’re selling them for a song, a mere EUR 3 for 3 kilos. Not being much of an apple person, I never really know what to do with them all. I make a few apple tarts, put them in salads, munch a few, and then….? If you have any good ideas, pleeeease let me know.
So We Wait, And Breathe, And See
I feel like we’re in a lull at the moment, that we have time to breathe, a sweet moment of respite.
On Thursday we did a sneaky little outing to a local lake (Lac de Montbel), a super popular summer spot that is all but completely deserted now that everyone is back in school. We walked part of the ~16 km rim trail with Polly, played in the sand, dipped in the water. I forgot my bathing suit, but it was so empty I simply stripped down to my knickers and went swimming nonetheless. It was a moment of freedom and complete release, something I haven’t experienced since……last year?
It was glorious.
Maybe things are moving forward again, in a real way. Maybe we’ll manage to travel again, and see the world around us. Maybe we’ll find some sense of normality again, if only for a moment. And perhaps our septic will get done (wouldn’t THAT be a minor miracle?).
To be honest, I’m still somewhere in-between it all, my darker moments interspersed with moments of espoir. It’s been a long, long, long…and uncertain summer, but perhaps fall (or Autumn, as my UK-based friends like to remind me it’s called here) will bring something new? I like the idea of shedding it all, of letting the last months fall away, going bare until we can re-boot this whole mess of a year into 2021. Either way I feel change is in the air, and I like to think that’s hopeful.
Do you share the hope, my friends? Are you feeling a change?? Or does it all still feel like Groundhog day? DO share your thoughts and comment below.
A Reminder For Overseas Americans (Make Your Vote Count!)
This is an add-on to my post. The clock is counting down to the upcoming Presidential vote in the USA, and although I do not talk politics (as a rule) on this blog I feel it’s important get the word out on how to make your vote for 2020 count. For Americans residing overseas, NOW is the time to act. Simply follow these 3 simple steps:
1/ Register to Vote (NOW!) -> Each state has deadlines by when you must register to vote. Click on the below websites to easily/quickly see your voting state’s dates & download a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to send in for registration (many states allow you to do this by e-mail!!). You can also go directly to your local state/county website & register there. There is still time to register, if you haven’t already, but don’t dilly dally. Do this now!
- Federal Voting Assistance Program: https://www.fvap.gov/
- Vote From Abroad: https://www.votefromabroad.org/
2/ Track Your Ballot (SEPT 19th) -> All states are required to send ballots to registered overseas voters at least 45 days before an election, that’s SEPT 19th this year. You should receive it that day (if your state e-mails it) or soon thereafter. If you have not received anything by October 1st, then you can still vote by downloading and sending in an “emergency ballot” otherwise known as the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). The key here is that as long as you are registered to vote, then you can vote!!!
3/ Cast Your Vote & Return your ballot (ASAP) -> In order to count for the election, overseas ballots must be post-marked by Nov 3rd, but there is often an extra, super-critical catch. Many states require that ballots must also be received within 7-10 days of the election date! International post takes weeks, which means if you send in your ballot too late, then your vote will not count. So, this is what you need to do:
- For states that accept return ballots by e-mail or fax, use that method to avoid delays. If you do not have access to a fax machine, there are online apps you can sign-up for (e.g. efax, you can sign-up for a free trail) OR you can use the fax service provided by the Federal Voting Assistance Program (e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org). Download and print THIS cover letter from FVAP to go along with your e-mail/fax ballot to avoid any processing errors.
- For states that only allow return by post, use tracked mail and post your ballot back as soon as your get it.
For those voting from abroad, I hope this helps. Make your voice count, make your vote count & spread the word!SPONSORED LINK:
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