Chronicles of the Virus Day 6

Well, that's that for my walks in the woods.

Yesterday afternoon, I crossed the road and took a lane into the woods. I went to the top of a little hill and looked across the valley towards the west, and the innermost corner of our inlet, the Ría de Arousa. Everything was tranquil, the drone of traffic had disappeared. When one van went by on the road far below me, the noise was evident. In the silence, I could hear a rooster crowing in the village below, and a tractor far off, working the earth. 

And there were birds. I don't think I've ever heard quite so many birds twittering and trilling together in the woods. The oak leaves were starting to unfurl, much too early, and the yellow flowers of the broom were opening, also much too early. I hope there will be enough blooms on those bushes still by Walpurgis night, April 30th, when we all hang them on doors and gates to sweep witches away. We need to sweep them away this year. 

When I came back and resumed reading the online news, I discovered that the fire brigades will be deployed on lanes in the woods and on the hills to make sure that no one breaks quarantine. In other words, no one is allowed to go for walks in the woods to take a breather, even if no one else is going for walks in the woods to take a breather. We are confined to our properties. My problem? That the winter was so wet that our field will still pull me down and try to swallow me if I should venture out to cross it from one end to the other to get some exercise. Parts of it are firmer, such as where we want to put in the potatoes, but others feel like a swamp creature is awaiting beneath the surface. Sigh. At least I can still take the trash.

I'm starting to miss my students. Every afternoon, I gave supplementary English classes to kids from second grade to adults. Some get on my nerves, I will admit it, and when they happened to be absent, I would congratulate myself on a more stress-free afternoon. Others, I love to debate with and try to get some notion of English into their heads. I also appreciate the teenage gossip I heard and that some would tell me in strict secrecy. While some days I wished no one would show up, those classes gave me a certain anchor of time and purpose. As well as very much needed money.

Now, I don't know when I will see them again. Or if most of them will return. Perhaps, because they are also missing school classes, most will come back, if only to try and save something from the year. Because that is another problem. To begin, it's fourteen days without school. But everyone knows this will go on for much longer. As the quarantine was put in place, grades for the second evaluation were about to be set and sent out. That was put on hold. But the third, and final, evaluation is about to begin. Only, it won't begin until probably the end of April, or even the beginning of May, which will be precious little time to work on finishing the curriculum for the year. 

Online learning is supposed to be put in place, and for some kids in some areas, it's probably working, up to a point. But not everyone has internet everywhere. And online learning for some kids is not enough. They need individual guidance to learn concepts difficult for them to grasp from simply reading an explanation. That's where a lot of after school classes come in, as well as some teachers that explicitly help individual students and explain more fully when someone in the class would say they don't understand. 

And the students in the final year of Bachillerato were supposed to also be studying for the university entrance exams in May. They've been put off, sine die, awaiting just where the school year will end up. Those students have been left in limbo, not sure anymore if they will even be able to attend university in September, much less make the grade to get into their chosen studies.

The newspaper, El País, continues to offer life hacks you have time to do now, such as clean the walls. Now, if it would only give you an injection of motivation online to actually go do it, I'd kiss the life style editor. There are gestures of solidarity that show up on the news, too, like the two soldiers who helped an elderly lady take home her grocery shopping in Oviedo. Or the landlords who pardon rents on apartments and small businesses until this is over. 

However, there are others who don't set aside bad habits. Last evening, a local gas station was held up by a guy with a knife. And there are the usual thieves who break into vacation homes to steal what they can and others who break into closed schools to steal material, such as computers. But there isn't much of a market these days because people just can't travel at a whim. In fact, police are seeing that crime is going down, even in conflictive neighborhoods, such as the Tres Mil Viviendas in Sevilla. 

Evangelical churches have also been cleared of people who still reunite to conduct religious services. People have been arrested for talking back to police that tell them to go home. If people are starting to get restless now, what are they going to be like after a month? We're starting to hear stories from Madrid hospitals similar to those in northern Italy. Infections are going up, the number of people who need intensive care is growing more and more. If people aren't going to keep themselves isolated, this is going to be even more horrendous. There will be time in the future to get together. 

Life continues.


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