Dale, our resident squirrel, hangs heels over head from a branch outside our window, stealing bird feed. It is a way of eating that breaks anybody’s routine, and he is one of our prime sources of entertainment these days. He always comes, and he always finds new ways of eating lunch from one day to the next. Who says that being in lockdown is monotonous?
Our lockdown is not so different from anybody else’s in the sense that whatever little thing you actually can do, you end up doing over and over again. You spend the first couple of days exploring the possibilities and your limits, and then you stay within them. What books do we have that we have not read yet? What tv-shows can we stream that we have not seen yet? How much of the world can we see from our windows? How many of our friends can we chat with, and how many of our old hobbies can we pick up on?
After returning from Asia in early February we left Oslo just a few days later to visit our Swiss mountain apartment, the place we plan to make our permanent home before the year is over. The idea was to spend three weeks there, and then go back to Norway and prepare our Oslo flat for sale. A possible corona lockdown was lurking at the back of our minds, but on Saturday March 7 another issue hit us with a bang. Walking from the flat to the local shop ES slipped on the ice, fell on her arm and broke her elbow. There was a crack and a scream – and a number of things changed.
DHH was supposed to travel to Oslo on his own the next day to work on preparing the flat, but this was now impossible. ES could not be alone. She was in pain, she could not cook nor shop or even get dressed without help, and her doctors would not let her travel anywhere for a number of weeks.
So we both stayed put – and put is where we still stay. While we have been staying put the world around us has changed dramatically. Restaurants have closed, shops have closed, planes have stopped flying and entire countries have closed. Had we gone to Norway as planned we would have been in lockdown there too, unable to work on the flat and unable to see the friends and family we had planned to visit. So, in the end, staying in Switzerland was just as good.
ES is not in pain anymore, her arm will eventually be ok, but she is still rather handicapped. And worst of all, she cannot knit! She is now the queen of daytime TV – in between doing Facetime phone calls and bossing her husband about.
DHH has been working his way thru 20 kilos of Disney comics, first 30 volumes of the collected works of Carl Barks and then 9 more volumes of Don Rosa. The favorite over the last week has been Rosa’s biography of Scrooge McDuck, starting when the hatchling earned his famous lucky dime as a small shoeshine boy in his native Glasgow. He is also finding time to sort old football souvenirs. As we are in the process of moving house we still have stuff in boxes that needs to be taken out, looked at, counted and put in its regular place!
In the evenings we consume two by two episodes of Le Bureau, the rather addictive French series about a troubled intelligence officer with a complicated love life and a loyalty torn between the French and the American Secret Services! What we do miss is football on TV, as this is a household of professional football addicts!
The contact with the rest of the extended family is strictly on no contact basis – with one exception. The Daughter who, like us, prefers to be a citizen of the world, quit her job and her flat back in August to travel the world for two years. When the virus hit the fan she was in California, but as the US health service is not designed to help foreigners in need she decided to get out of there. The US health service is in fact not designed to help anybody, not even US citizens, but unlike most of them The Daughter had a way out. She flew back to Switzerland, and for the last two weeks she has been in total isolation in a rented flat in the same house as us. DHH now cooks for three. He feeds ES in her easy chair in front of the TV and then goes two floors down to feed The Daughter by placing a plate outside her door and ringing the bell. It is just like feeding the cat!
And then, of course, we feed Dale. We have been regulars in this mountaintop apartment house for a few years now, and one of the first things we noticed were the squirrels who came climbing up to our window if we left them some nuts on the terrace floor. We had a regular customer, called Chip, for the first few years, but we have not seen him this winter. We have sadly resigned to the fact that he is no more. A couple of relatives do come in his place however, and one of them, Dale, is the artist who eats birdfeed as well as nuts and entertains us by doing acrobatics in the bushes, on the railing and on the outdoor furniture.
As the days go by, our lockdown life is probably not so different from anybody else’s. Being retired is a real blessing, our money comes rolling in every month and we have no job that we risk to lose. Being in the countryside is a bit easier than living in the city, we can go for long undisturbed walks. The foreign tourists our little village normally lives from are of course not coming, and the many mountain paths outside our door are almost empty. The many local restaurants closed a couple of weeks ago, but one of them takes dinner orders and does home delivery every Wednesday. This gives DHH the chance to take a day off from cooking, and it gives ES and The Daughter the chance to get some decent food once in a while.
The slogan «stay The Fuck At Home» is now conquering the globe. In Norway there is even a ban against doing your quarantine time in your holiday home. We are technically not at home however, we actually are in our holiday home, but luckily there is no such law in Switzerland. On one hand we should go «properly home» when ES is fit to travel, but on the other hand our isolated little mountain village is probably the safest place in Europe right now. As long as those who live here stay here, as long as nobody brings the virus up from the valley, as long as all those who can stay put actually does just that!
As for the village grocery shop it stays open, but we no longer go there. We order by email, then DHH walk over to the shop to collect the load outside the door. We are not sick, but maybe we are getting paranoid. On the other hand, we do wish our neighbors would do the same thing. If the people who run the shop get the bug, then the rest of us are in big shit. So far they are all ok thank heavens, and so far they have all the stuff we need; beer, bread, pizza dough, toilet paper, and hand soap.
And hazelnuts. We really need our weekly supply of hazelnuts! If our friend Dale is to continue doing his daily tricks outside our living room window, he will want his daily bribe!