It’s Day 38 of the South African lockdown, and the third day of Lockdown Level 4. I took my second Level 4 walk through Melville this morning (here’s my account of the first one) and spent a lot of time thinking as I walked.
My first thought: In many ways, Lockdown Level 4 is harder than Lockdown Level 5. Yes, we have a few more freedoms — we can walk outside for a few hours a day, we can order meals for delivery, we can shop for a few more things. But those few, very limited freedoms are also a reminder of how far we still are from life before the pandemic.
Also there is no “countdown” anymore. First we had a 21-day lockdown, which was extended to a 35-day lockdown. Now we just have..Level 4. There is no way of knowing how long Level 4 will last, or Level 3 or Level 2 or Level 1. Will there ever be a Level 0?
Last night I was watching a documentary called Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix. Samin Nosrat, the protagonist of the documentary who wrote a book by the same name, travels around the world exploring the influence of salt, fat, acid, and heat on food and cooking. Samin goes to Italy and Japan and Mexico and the United States. She romps through olive groves, explores busy food markets, hugs people, enjoys dinners at long tables with large groups of friends, and tastes food constantly without washing her hands or even sanitizing. These are all things I used to enjoy doing.
This documentary was made last year. But it could have been last century. As I watched, I felt like I was peeking through a window at a world that no longer exists and may never exist again.
My second thought: I love Melville. This really is a great community and these morning walks are a reminder of that. I bumped into (figuratively, not literally) so many friends while walking — Andrea and Marco (the rollerbladers above), Sandi (I hope you’re feeling better!), my old neighbor Adele, Lucky, Ryan and Fiona, and an American lady named Moira who I’d never met before but as we passed each other she shouted: “I read your blog!” This made me very happy.
My third thought: Why is there so much dog poop in the street? This was never the case before lockdown. Also this is South Africa, not France.
I had a few more thoughts but these were the main ones.
When I got home from my walk, I finally raked the leaves in my driveway and I feel quite proud of myself. I also took a pretty cool iPhone picture of my cat’s feet.
Lockdown Around the World
I have another lockdown mini-story for you, this one from reader Brenda Reiss. Brenda is American but spent much of her youth in Joburg. Here’s what Brenda has to say:
Greetings from Seattle! The first place in the US where Covid landed. Will there be a monument? We aren’t quite as locked down as South Africa… booze! walks! barbecues! Well, just one…our neighbors cooked (no braais here) in their tiny front yard while their friends sat in lawn chairs on the sidewalk and they all shouted back and forth. How quickly weird becomes normal.
I don’t know anyone here yet except my daughter and her family and construction on my new apartment had to stop so I am living in a small room like a third class ship’s cabin, boxes jammed in every corner but feeling incredibly spoiled and lucky. I don’t have to do anything.
What’s the connection to South Africa you say? Well, surely one of SA’s biggest exports now must be the torrent of memoirs and autobiographies, so why not add to it? I lived most of my childhood and young adult years there thanks to my American dad’s work and I’ve been scribbling away about this over an embarrassing number of years. Now the clock is ticking, loudly, so it’s time. I’m trying to put those bits together for a coherent story.
In my head, far from Covid, I am journeying back to a long lost Johannesburg where I rode my horse on dirt roads through Sandown and Rivonia, went to school in a uniform, went barefoot at home and swam until my hair turned green. Happy sometimes, crying other times, I hunt through a mish-mash of photos and do ridiculous research. Lots of fond memories—but also, well, it was South Africa in the 1950s and 60s—so it’s a struggle to balance truth, history and personal memories. I’d like to tell my story and it’s getting late.
If you’d like to tell your own lockdown story in 300 words or less, please contact me.
Today’s Worthy Cause
I’ll get back to featuring new worthy causes tomorrow. But today I want to remind you I already have a list of nearly 30 worthy causes featured in previous lockdown journal posts. Please peruse the list and find someone to help today.