By Rosalind Leveridge
It began with daffodils
And ended with fog, this confinement
And we had just returned from Nice.
‘Nice in Nice’, my father used to say.
The winter-blue skies had indeed been nice.
Yet there, images of infection
Had already begun to appear
And cancelling the Mardi Gras.
We brought them home with us
Those pictures of masked protection
To spoil the sunshine of an English spring
And cloud the future.
Then we went on new-discovered pathways
While gingerbread baked gently golden-brown
Found fresh shoots on tender planted stems
Saw rainbows of hope brightening every home
And with tiny tessellations of glass
Made a fine-finned fish swim at last
In the deepest of sparkling blue seas.
Missing from this, of course you know,
In other days
And other places.
Whilst nature’s rhythms
Of our lives
Now we must learn to dance in the rain
As wiser men advised before
You know, of course you know,
All this will return.
I wrote this because exactly a year ago, we had been spending a couple of days in Nice. The virus was attracting a lot of attention just over the border in Italy, where it was rapidly spreading. However, in France, at the end of February 2020, it was still confined to a handful of cases, and despite the photos of doctors and nurses in full protective clothing, we were not really alarmed as it felt distant. I look back on this time now as the last moments of normality before a year of crisis and change. If we had known, we might have treasured them more.
I am a French teacher, and not being able to visit France as I have been doing all my life is one of impacts (apart from those on family and friends evidently) that has affected me the most.