Autumn,  Budějovice,  czech culture,  Czech Republic,  Herbalism,  South Bohemia

Autumn Lockdown Feels Like

Do you think optimistic, positive people ever just… lose it after awhile? I consider myself one of those and was wondering when that breaking point would come. After holding it together so well since lockdown started in March, I’ve had more work than ever before (none of this Corona free time) and I guess last Sunday, in mid-late November it all sort of came to a head. It came to me today that of course our Christmas trip abroad would be cancelled this year – it would be folly to go through with it. I thought of all the sadness and destruction that 2020 has wrought. I wondered when I would be able to go back home next. I thought about how I feel like I am just grasping on to the smallest of things as the important things fall away.

And I had a good cry, for the first time since this whole miserable thing started.

Here in the Czech Republic, we’ve now been in “second lockdown” since October 14th. Meaning curfew, only essential businesses open, social distancing required, masks required everywhere. Despite the severity, it was for some reason more lenient than in the spring when your time outdoors had to be “purposeful”. Just like last time, it was hard in the beginning because other parts of the world seemed to go on as usual until a week or so into November! (and watching people have fun at their Halloween parties while you enjoy your Zoom party is… not the most fun thing – even though we did manage to have a great time in the end)

So, we’re at six weeks today – already longer than our first one, which essentially lasted a month and a half. Many people are having a tougher go around this time, not only because of the extraordinary high numbers, near misses, and having to actually quarantine here and there. I predicted that I might even have an easier time dealing with the isolation and restrictions because, well, we know how it goes this time around. There’s no question about how to work (and teach!) remotely, and it started during the beautiful autumn season, heading right into Christmastime and my favorite month of the year.

However, it just all caught up with me last weekend, similarly to the anxiety-based burnout I had in May (is this going to be a new thing?) Having to work so hard through everything that is going on, releasing all my plans and dreams into the ether and trying to forget about them completely. It’s hard, and I know it’s hard like this for everyone.

I don’t know how it is where you live, but I can’t help but find it extremely odd that by and large, many Czech people haven’t really been taking the restrictions and lockdown as seriously. I am often one of the only people wearing a mask when I go to walk the dog (although it has improved in the past couple days – I blame the cold). Even through the city center, where we are supposed to wear a mask anytime you might pass someone in a distance of less than two meters, this often goes unheeded, which is incredibly frustrating, yet our first lockdown when we had only a handful of cases, you’d see absolutely no one on the the streets at all. I’m finally getting a taste of what my American friends have been complaining about for months.

There’s more I could complain about (the copious amounts of queues popping up around the city due to limited hours and amount of open shops, in which I spent over an hour waiting yesterday!), but there are already whispers of opening things back up a little bit as the numbers are finally declining again here for the first time since the beginning of summer. I hope that this second re-opening will be more carefully managed.

After what happened on Sunday, I decided I need to ask for help more. That I can’t possibly manage allthethings. I took most of Monday off and called it a mental health day. We went to the forest as early as we could manage on Monday morning. I took a thermos of hot spicy tea and collected some evergreen branches for decorations, Ferda ran around joyously off-leash — it is also so refreshing to be immersed in nature in the morning and this time was no different! It could even be a regular thing… why not?

We got back into town and stopped in for a loaf of fresh sourdough from Chleba se soli and a takeaway decaf cappuccino from Essence Cafe. Later I read my “day book”, took a nap and a bubble bath (there is no self-care day without a bath), and it all really filled me with energy for the rest of the week. Some of my friends and family have mentioned they’ve decided to take some days off this Thanksgiving week – I think we all need it! If you even think you need it a little bit and you can take it, take it.

Going on with the rest of the week and heading into the Advent season, it’s time we start shaking up the boring old working from home routines. More walks, more visiting outdoor spaces (even with the recent chill) that I haven’t been in awhile. More enjoying the end of our beautiful autumn days and celebrating our American Thanksgiving traditions this weekend (because you need a full day) is also the light at the end of my tunnel, and the promise of the first punch stand visits, maybe even with a friend or two. Currently we are allowed to visit with up to 6 people, but we are still taking it slow and being cautious as we all are definitely not out of the woods yet.

I wanted to leave you with some more nice scenes of wonderful autumn days in the forest I’ve had in the past month or so. One day I went mushrooming with a friend and her family and took home the absolute motherload of mushrooms! I thought late October was perhaps too late, but the forest was surprisingly chock full of them! I love this annual ritual and gladder even that this is my second year mushrooming and I’m getting better, bit by bit! Big shout-out to Alex when I came home with two whole baskets full on his day off and he spent three hours in the kitchen, slicing and cleaning them with me on our day off. He said, “When my grandpa brought home fish, my grandma would jump into action and help him clean them”. Awhhh.

One of those beautiful days when the foliage was at its peak and the days weren’t too cold, we trekked up Klet’ and had the perfect schnitzel picnic lunch at the top. Our annual tradition. And this time, an isolated picnic table with two schnitzels just for us made for quite the pretty picture.

Take care, stay safe, and hope you and yours are faring well during these strange and uncertain times. Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans – hope you find a lot to be thankful for as I do.