LESLIE MCBRIDE WILE
My husband and I have been going about life under quarantine much as we would under normal circumstances. We spend part of each day outdoors, working in our gardens, preparing for spring and summer. We brought our big shade umbrella up from the cantina, along with the chairs we stored there over the winter. Some days it’s warm enough to have lunch on the terrace. We do the NY Times crossword, watch a bit of TV or a movie after supper, go to bed at a reasonable hour. We’re sleeping well, eating clean, staying hydrated, and enjoying the great relief of talking and laughing together in the flesh instead of via Skype.
We are aware that we might still get sick; we won’t know for sure until 2 or 3 April that my husband’s long trek from Africa hasn’t brought the virus into our home. But we don’t think so, of course we don’t. We don’t think or talk much about it, but asking each other “How do you feel?” in the morning carries a bit more weight than usual.
The news of still-rising numbers of infections and deaths here in Italy is horrifying and profoundly sad. The economic future of the country is even more uncertain than usual, but the toll in human lives and damage to our vibrant social fabric is the thing that hurt most. I read just enough every day to stay informed; mostly I want to know as soon as the numbers begin to diminish. This morning I read an account of Italy’s handling of the virus, the government’s stumbles and successes. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/21/world/europe/italy-coronavirus-center-lessons.html
I read in the Italian regional daily La Stampa that Mondovì has two new cases of virus in the hospital, and that washable protective masks are being produced locally; these will be distributed by the Protezione Civile. The municipal government has made all parking free throughout the city to facilitate shopping and banking in town.
An article from New Zealand was instructive and sensible and somehow reassuring. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/on-the-inside/412170/covid-19-exercise-fresh-air-and-laughter-vital-for-surviving-self-isolation . And one from Al Jazeera was thought-provoking https://ifpnews.com/president-rouhani-sends-message-to-people-of-america .
I read these things and then turn my mind to matters I can control to some degree: toast or muesli? Weeding or planting? A walk or a nap?
Very soon I think my little bulletins will be of less interest to friends outside the States; this is as it should be. The threat of being touched directly by the virus is already closer to home, more personal, less news of the day and more in your face. One day Italy will be replaced by some other unfortunate country as the epicenter of this global crisis. Our family may want to know how we’re doing but as the virus takes hold in the USA, Americans will focus more on their own immediate concerns: how to live under self-quarantine or adapt to drastic restrictions on daily lives and freedom of movement. Maybe the country will devise some uniquely American response to these hardships, the way Italians are singing every evening and applauding those on the front lines of the war against the virus. We all will be, if not in the same boat, navigating the same sea and pulling with all we’ve got for the far side of this pandemic.