Un Unexpected Lesson in Joy
An Unexpected Lesson in Joy
14 March 2020. A strange calm descends upon the land. The virus keeps everyone inside and paralyses public life. The rat race grinds to a halt. We don't know what’s coming our way. With the prospect of a long-term quarantine, I start a diary. I photograph familiar things: my home, my family. In this reduced world there is time, there is silence. And then spring comes.
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The surprise party for my birthday has been cancelled. Everyone has to stay at home.
The enforced break doesn’t feel unpleasant. We live on an island with no clock. We get up when we wake up and eat when we’re hungry.
Our daughters’ teacher has prepared their homework. We turn the kitchen into a classroom.
Class time in the morning, playtime in the afternoon.
A week already. Every day is like Sunday. No cut-through traffic in our street during rush hour.
Even the murmur of freight traffic on the motorway down the road has faded.
We're on the alert. Every sneeze is suspicious. Our house feels like a safe cocoon, but we know this is a false sense of security.
On Facebook I read that a distant friend has been infected.
I fix the roof of the greenhouse. It had proved unable to withstand Storm Ciara. Anja sows peas.
In times of distress we realize what really matters. And what doesn’t.
We cancel our travel plans. Like the rest of the world, we’re going to stay at home.
The neighbour's pig has found a hole in the fence and visits regularly.
The end of the weekend. We celebrate by lighting a fire and looking at the stars.
Every night before I go to sleep, I watch my daughters. I wonder what the world will look like when they’re 46.
Billie wants more Easter eggs.
Suzanne is tired of her dad photographing her all the time.
We spend our days in old clothes. There won’t be any visitors anyway.
Despite our empty diary, the days are full. Time flies.
Spring is coming. On the ridge of the roof, the black redstart sings its rattling song.
"What’s on your mind, Billie?"
"I miss my friends.”
An invisible virus has managed to slow down everything and everyone.
Something which humanity, with all its whims and wisdom, failed to do.
I’m on the roof. I don’t see Elon Musk’s satellites. Only a farmer ploughing into the night.
School assignment: make a one-metre-high tower out of various things.
All these were taken between 11 March and 9 May 2020 in and around my home in Ranst.
After this period, the government measures to combat the coronavirus were gradually phased out.