It is an odd feeling to walk outdoors at the moment. Strangely calm, with no planes and few cars. Yet while human activity seems to have ground to a resounding halt, life goes on.
All around us, nature is blissfully oblivious to the human drama unfolding on its doorstep. Springing, bursting, burgeoning forth in joyful profusion, it doesn’t care about coronavirus.
“Calme ta joie,” I tell the tree, heavy with blossoms a-buzzing. Don’t you know people are dying?
In the field by the road two crows squabble over carrion. Atop the highest tree branch sits a kite, one of the magnificent birds of prey that populate our region, calmly surveying the proceedings. They are a reminder that death is so much a part of life. Survival, each day, depends on it.
I go outside and walk now more than ever, within the restricted perimeter of my authorized one-kilometre radius. As if to say, here I am, alive and well. Good morning world. Fuck you, coronavirus.
Unable to plan beyond the boundaries of personal space and essential commodities, we are no longer sure what day it is. But I am aware, perhaps more than ever, of the season.
The unstoppable chorus of birdsong is a joyful reminder that spring is here, in full swing, morning and night. It was always there in the background, behind the roar of our day-to- day rush. But now we wake to its twittering soundtrack and go to sleep with its last, mournful notes echoing in our dreams.
‘Calme ta joie’ is an expression I first heard when the kids were small. It is often said to children, and the French in general: calm down, stay cool, chill out. Perhaps we envy our more staid British neighbours their ‘keep calm and carry on’ mentality.
Yet It seems oddly appropriate for this strange period of human captivity. You cannot stop the force of nature, of life itself, for long. You can calm it down for a little while but ultimately nature will out.
And for that, I am profoundly joyful.
I leave you with this track, discovered via the googling of the title of this post. The artist, previously unknown to me, is called Clémentine.
Are you feeling joy in the calm?