There’s A Kind Of Hush…

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Nerja sunrise a few weeks ago

I woke up Sunday morning and the world was different. I felt it in my bones and sensed it all around me, the subtle but distinct change that had taken place in the hours I’d slept.

I’ve always been an early riser and like most people, I follow an ordinary, but a fairly regimented morning routine of getting up, making coffee, skimming e-mails, etc.  While the coffee machine chugs away, I make my way out onto the terrace and take in the beauty of the morning.  The dawn chorus, dogs barking, faint rumblings of cars and trucks on the highway, muted voices of people coming from the courtyards and streets and seeing the pastel orange and pink hues of the sunrise. A deep breath, a grateful thought and a quiet blessing to my family and friends near and far – it’s how every day begins.

This past Sunday mornings’ routine was no different inside the apartment, but when I stepped out onto the terrace, my ears were assaulted with the chirps, twitters, caws and tweets of birds. Maddingly loud birds. The ordinary gentle dawn chorus had erupted into a raucous avian cacophony.

Why were they so loud? I couldn’t see a  greater number of birds than normal in the trees or on rooftops.  But I had never heard them this loud.  I listened in wonderment for a few minutes, and then the difference this morning hit me.  There were no other noises to drown them out.  No dogs barking, no human voices, no revving of moto engines or the humming and grinding tire noise from the highway, no cats bawling, no car doors slamming, no coughing from smokers out to get their first cigarette of the day. Even the sheepdog in the farm building in the dry arroyo, who never, ever stops barking from sundown to sunup, was quiet.

Quiet like an early Christmas morning when everyone is at home and everything is closed and the day begins filled with expectation. Or after a big snowfall when the world is clean and white and the snow covers the ground and stifles sounds.

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Dark clouds blanketing Nerja this morning (March17, 2020)

The streets were completely empty. Nothing moving except for two lone vehicles far off in the distance.  Traffic lights changed from amber, red and green – once, twice and then a third time with no one waiting.  The pharmacy sign that switches back and forth from a green cross to the always incorrect digital clock was the only other thing that seemed to denote movement.  The coastline, the white buildings below and up here on mountainside were blanketed in heavy, grey cloud, seemingly hovering in expectation or hunkering down for a long wait. Maybe both.

It was the beginning of the Estado de Alarma (State of Alarm), the so-called nationwide lockdown of Spain.  Not the official decreed day (that was yesterday), but it was obvious procedures had been implemented overnight for the containment and prevention of COVID-19 or coronavirus in layman’s terms. And we have a set of rules that must be followed, mostly the elimination of going out of our homes for unnecessary reasons.  Right now, we are allowed to shop for food and essentials, take care of health emergencies and necessary healthcare, assist especially vulnerable people, purchase gasoline, pick up medications, travel to and from workplaces, and transport people to the airport who are able to get out. That’s it.  And for all of this, proof is required. We have been advised the police will be stopping those who venture out, questioning and checking the validity of our reason for leaving our homes. Anyone not complying with these rules will be dealt with accordingly.

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One lone delivery truck on the autovia (highway).

This is not rocket science – it’s a case of ‘do this, or else’.  Is the threat of ‘or else’ worth giving in to the innate voyeurism we humans seem to have?  And if we do get away with having an up-close and personal look at what’s happening, is it worth exposing ourselves, and in a domino effect, exposing others to this fast-moving virus?  Think of your grandparents, your asthmatic toddler, your 83-year-old neighbour with Parkinson’s and dementia, your brother with a compromised immune system from Lyme disease.   Let’s face it, most of us won’t die from contracting COVID-19, but some will. And I do not want people to fall ill (or worse) from my inability to restrain my curiosity or overcome cabin fever.  It’s that simple. I will comply.

I’ll stay in my apartment and count my blessings in what I do have – a comfortable place to live, plenty of food and water, books on my e-reader (and real ones too), paper and pencils, my underutilized Netflix subscription, a Scrabble game and something to knit.  Then there are added bonuses – precious time to read and write and study Spanish, the opportunity to sit on the terrace and soak up the sunshine, the joy of listening to those birds in all of their stridency, the technological ability to communicate with my friends and family in Canada and all over the world.  Most of all, to have someone wonderful with me to share in these weeks.

Day 3 into this and the change is palpable. The quiet is just one of the differences, but it is the one I notice most.  And we have a long way to go yet.  Although we’ve been told that it will be two weeks, most of us here are sure it will last longer.  I am good with that. The working together of everyone to contain and prevent what could be disastrous on a world-wide scale is the least we can do.  Follow the rules, help those who can’t help themselves and be a responsible person.  As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and I am willing to do my small part in staving off the spread of this virus.

Also, I refuse to call it a lockdown. I prefer to think of it as a shelter-in-place strategy for self-care, community care and world care. All of us can and should do our part to make a difference – care to join me?

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If you could see the quiet I hear (Nerja, Spain)

15 thoughts on “There’s A Kind Of Hush…

  1. Thank you for the message. Good to hear from you Jackie. Wow, do you ever get around! Great for you, but be very careful what with this Coved-19 issue! Yes your message is symbolic of many places but I do not think to the extreme as indicated in your message , however we are moving in that direction! Take care, Paul Peckford

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    1. I was so happy to see your reply! Thank you. I am so fortunate tohave been able to travel as I have and there is a lot more to come, I hope. It’s the strangest feeling to have these rules imposed on us here in Spain, rules that limit our freedom, but I can undestand why. If nothing else, I am more thankful today for a lot of things (mostly people) than I was two weeks ago. I hope you are well. Cuidate y gracias por todos! xo J

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  2. Dearest Jacqui ,I read your posting ,on St .Patrick’s Day , with joy and solidarity with you and your beautiful words of love for self , our neighbours and for all the citizens of the world . The Irish nation send the countries of the world all of our love, blessings and prayers on St Patrick’s Day .Let’s take one day at a time .We will come through this time. Thank you for getting in touch Jacqui. I will light a candle for you and your family and friends in our local church tomorrowm.Love and best wishes from Jennifer .

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    1. Thank you so much Jennifer. Your kind words and prayers mean so much. It’s funny how it takes difficult and trying times to make us aware of what and who is important in this life. I am looking forward to meeting you face to face sometime, to share a laugh and a hug and a friendship. Love, Jacquie

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  3. Hello Jacqui. Lovely to read your post. We too, find ourselves in the same situation as yourselves, here in Italy. It is truly blissful. We too hear the birds chirping and not a sound from elsewhere (except maybe our little dog wanting our attention). We are both enjoying spending many hours in the garden, making much more progress than we would have expected, due to the fact that we aren’t having to “go out for coffee” or “meet the gang for pizza”. We feel very grateful that we live out in the country as it hasn’t restricted us going for walks or enjoying the fresh air. I do however feel for those stuck in small apartments with children at home from school. I’m sure it’s challenging for them. But we must all follow these new rules and hopefully time will show that it has been prudent and wise. A big hug to both from both of us xx

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    1. Great article. You’ve captured the true essence of what this Covid-19 scenario entails; a chance to do good for the sake of others, appreciate the often overlooked blessings in life and a time to rest and enjoy things we complain we never have time to do. Maybe it will change the world for the good.

      Blessings to you and I pray for good health through this event.

      Your friend.

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      1. Gracias amigo! Writing helps me make sense of the world and life. You and Sue are epitomize what happens when you do good for the sake of others. Life is too precious to be selfish, to short to spend valuable time complaining. Keep on blessing the world as you both do! Nuestra amiga, Jacquie

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    2. Thank you – it is lovely to hear from you! You are so lucky to have the freedom of moving about in the garden and going for walks. But when you are so used to and enjoy the social bits of life, it is hard when you find yourselves alone. Thank goodness for social media and technology. We are not in each other’s pockets here as the apartment is a good size and we have a lovely terrace, plus we are backing onto the mountain/national park. I can go out and sit on a rock if I want to. So I am truly grateful for what we do have. I would give almost anything to be sharing a pizza right now though! Well, stay safe…cuidate amiga! xo

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  4. Beautifully and sensitively written Jackie . A throughly super read . These are very trying times world over . All we can do is play our part and hope this ends soon . I time for refection . Look after yourselves. Sending our love . Missing Nerja . Things are not looking good over here either . Our thoughts and prayers are with you all . Xxx🙏❤️😘

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    1. Thank you Meg. I guess we all need to take this time to make this world a better place, even if it’s just making the best of a bad situation. Much love to you – stay well and be safe. xo

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  5. Please keep this journal updated, Jacquie — I’m so interested in your perspective on what’s happening there in Spain, and it is well worth recording living through such times as these.

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