Friday, November 20, 2020

Lost Inside Your Bubble

The French government has declared that we are confined to our own personalized bubble from now until the first of December. With a declaration form in hand you can, for one hour, leave your house to get some exercise in the the outside part of your bubble. There is no stopping to visit with anyone else, no dilly dallying outside the little grocery (if your bubble includes the little grocery). One’s legally binding bubble is restricted to a one kilometer radius circle around your home (about 2/3 of a mile.)

As you can see from the map our personalized bubble includes the bakery, the little grocery store, a pass across the river, and short, dead end jaunts up and down any street in the village. What the map does not show are the little woodland paths that criss-cross the back woods surrounding the village. Funny because if you asked any one from the village about the forest they would say they were all cut down years ago.

The locals know these ancient pathways well. They have used them to get to and from school, down to the shops, up to church services, over to pastures to tend livestock, or just for taking the shortcut to visit a neighbor. 

But what could happen if they leave these well worn paths? Can they count on the fact that they can’t be lost even when they are no more than one kilometer from home? I’ve heard some tales of folks turning around and around searching for their way home while still within their home bubble radius.

Tom and Daisy the dog

I had a late appointment so Tom went out alone for the evening walk. Taking advantage of my absence he decided to “explore”. I hate to explore because it really means bushwhacking. He headed up the prickly path behind us that we never take because it is too prickly, fades to rabbit tracks and goes to nowhere. Up the hill he went, then he turned east over a ridge looking to meet up with the path that heads south back into the village. He managed to make his way east over the ridge, but he wasn’t finding a path that headed south. Figuring he hadn’t gone far enough he went across a second ridge. Still no path down. Where the heck was he? He could hear the village bells ringing. There had to be a path down towards the village just down there…

In the meantime I had returned home and was wondering why Tom and the dog were still out in the dark. I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I walk along the riverbank to see if one of them had fallen in? Should I get in the car and drive along the ridge to see if one of them had broken their leg? What if the phone rang to tell me they were having drinks with the HappyPeople and would be home soon? I paced around further frustrated knowing that Tom doesn’t have a phone. Really. He didn’t forget it. He does not have one. Finally our phone rang. 

“I’m lost.”

“Well you’re calling me so where are you?”

“I don’t know! The lady who's phone I’m using says I am in Gueyzat. Where am I?”

Gueyzat is two hollows and two lanes over….. I hopped in the car and collected a very rattled Tom and a worn out dog all of 4 minutes away from home.

Madame Pink

We were driving back home late one afternoon when I saw a drunkard sprawled out in the roadside ditch. A few seconds passed by beforeI realized I knew who that drunkard was. It was sweet, elegant Madame Pink! “Turn around turn around. We have to go help her.” Sure enough it was her, barely recognizable, but her. Madame Pink is usually all bright happy clothes and extra bright pink lipstick. Today her hair was plastered to her forehead, her clothes were disheveled, and her makeup was melting. I hopped out of the car and a tiny voice said, “I don’t know where I am.” Here she was on the main road into the village. Was she having a stroke? No, and she wasn’t at all drunk. She had just been too engrossed in collecting mushrooms and forgot to pay attention to the time. Now she was too hot, really thirsty and terribly disoriented. “Can you please take me home? I have no idea where my car is…..” Now when I run into Madame Pink in all her elegance we laugh at the thought of the drunkard in the ditch.


Martha was born here. She grew up roaming the hills and dales of our river valley. She knows every hamlet, who lives in each house in the hamlet and how many dogs live in each house. But even the best country girl can get lost in her own back yard if she gets too distracted. Martha loves to tell this tale on herself. She had finished all her morning chores including shelling the peas for today’s lunch. The weather had been perfect for mushrooms so she decided to put everything out for the mid-day meal and take a quick hour to go on a mushroom hunt. No one would notice her absence and she’d be back in time to have lunch on the table at 12:30 on the dot as always. The mushrooms were plentiful and she kept saying just one more, just one more, one more. When she finally looked up she had no idea where she was.

“This looks like the stump up by the Fortins. I’ll be home just in time if I start heading back from here. Might even find some more mushrooms.” 

But suddenly there wasn’t a mushroom to be seen. Once flustered you loose the spell of the mushroom hunter. 

To make matters worse she could hear the village bells sounding noon and she still wasn’t exactly sure where she was. She needed to get herself sorted out because her husband counted on a hot mid-day meal. When she finally scrambled into the kitchen it seemed he wasn’t so much worried about where she had been, or why she was late, but why the peas tasted funny and the quiche was cold. They had a good laugh that he was eating raw peas and that Martha had been lost right there in her own back yard.

As you can see the locals have more space in their bubbles than meets the eye and the government can only control so much of your wanderings. It’s up to you to pay attention to the limitations of time and space. And nobody ever got lost buying mushrooms in a store.


Lynn McBride said...

I just love your map, and this is such a charming story. And funny, how everyone got lost. But I can relate. It brings back happy memories of when we lived in a small village. Such a lovely life you have, even in la confinement!

Kathie K said...

Such a fun post. Thanks for the stories. I live in Portland, Oregon and we, too, have been "locked down" until mid-December. Everyone's trying to adjust to the thought there will be little in the way of Thanksgiving celebrations. Hopefully, our number will improve in time for Christmas. Cheers!

Jeanie said...

I love this. It gives me such a feel for your environment. I wonder what people do if the market isn't within their bubble? We're locked down more or less (no penalties but strongly urged) till December 2 and I wish it was for much longer.Things are out of control here and getting worse. It will be just us two for Thanksgiving and Christmas, even if we are "allowed" a greater gathering. I play a long game -- it isn't worth the risk. Please take care and stay well.