Today is the first day that it’s beginning to get to me.
I’d managed well up until now. I work for a large software company, and we’re fairly used to working from home even in normal times. Concentration sometimes slips when you’re always at home, but there are some nice things, like the daily social call with the department, where everyone points their laptop cameras into their gardens, towards the squirrel nest on one colleague’s balcony, or at their various cats and guinea pigs. Small children look over shoulders as we talk about our daily challenges. We’re getting to know colleagues in a different way.
I don’t work Fridays, and like to start the day with breakfast at the baker’s, but now it’s take-away coffee, and this morning it was too cold to sit outside. I sat in the flat and watched breakfast TV for the first time in years. The rot is setting in.
At least there was some positive news: bookshops will be opening up again on Monday and other smaller shops, so I’ll be able to walk around the corner to our wonderful local bookshop Bücherstube and der Tiefburg (let me give the owner a small plug). But it was depressing to read about the migrant workers working on the stadium for the Qatar world cup, in danger from the virus and running out of supplies. I must write to the Bundesliga later to protest their rights.
As the day went on, it warmed up, so I decided to wait for my flatmate and maybe walk up to the old gardens on the hill. Handschuhsheim is surrounded on the one side towards the river (Neckar) by market gardens, on the other by old allotment gardens, some so old that they have protected status. But there are also a few neglected ones. I have some seeds from last year, and we’d discovered an abandoned garden, so I thought I’d do a little bit of guerrilla gardening. Various herbs that might come up or might not.
As it turned out my flatmate wanted to go on a more vigorous hike up above the Philosophers’ Way. This would have been too much for me in the time given. (I’m slightly asthmatic, and going up hill is hard work.), so after a good moan about completely unconnected gripes (“Why am I the only one who knows how to empty a bin?”, “What’s so difficult about operating washing machines?”, …), I accepted my lot and set off to do my own walk as planned.
Quite a few people were out and about, but everyone kept their distance and once I made it up the hill, people were few and far between. I planted my herbs, which was not as easy as expected. I had to choose a slightly different spot, as a Bohemian looking young Frenchman with a yellow Vespa was occupying the spot I’d been aiming for. Once I found somewhere, the earth was very dry and hard, but I managed it in the end. Then I sat down and enjoyed the view: in front of me the thickly wooded Mühltal (mill valley), where there used to be a string of watermills. One at least remains. Beyond that, the flat plain: the local protestant church, Heidelberg further off, even further the smoking chimneys of Ludwigshafen and then – a misty outline on the horizon – the Vosges.
This evening a couple in the house has invited us all for pizza. They will fetch it for everyone, and we’ll all eat it in our own spaces. Strange times. Maybe it will be warm enough to space ourselves out across the garden. Let’s hope. Anyway, a generous and kind thought on their part.