Today, I saw some storks. Three, to be exact, flying over the Western Mediterranean marshlands where I live, heading to their breeding grounds further north. Late January and a presage of spring already, accompanying the mimosa trees that have suddenly burst into flower as though a child has taken a pot of the brightest yellow paint she could find and splashed drops all over a wintery canvas. It was just as the spring migration was beginning last year that France entered its first lockdown.
INTERVIEW BY MIRTHE SMEETS
TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH BY SOPHIE VAN DEN AKKER
With winter’s arrival it has gotten colder, wetter, grayer, and gloomier outside. And yet, it is still wise to go outside—whether you’re a job seeker thinking that you should instead be sending out another application letter today or if you just have little energy. Walking coach Tini van de Wetering from Shofukan Coaching is convinced that everyone benefits from a daily walk.
I panicked. Full-on panic-attack-style, feeling-completely-stuck panic. It was a couple of days after lockdown had been announced in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We had felt the decision coming, as we closely followed news from Italy and Spain and as cases rose in neighboring Croatia and Serbia. My Dutch friend and I had started to make plans to move in together so we wouldn’t be alone for however many weeks lockdown endured, but suddenly she was required to return to the Netherlands. With this, a rift began to destabilize the contingency plans I had made. My mind then went into overdrive, and I fast-forwarded the next few months: living alone, with no physical contact, my family thousands of miles across the other side of Europe, with work ground to a halt, and so many unknowns ahead. And I panicked.