What we are realizing as we are slowly stepping out of the lockdown is that we followed rigid routines: reading, cooking, wandering in the city and in nature, watching the daily announcement of the civil protection and the chief epidemiologist. In a sense we were walking on pathways that we deepened everyday. The first pathway was through nature, literary on the hill around the corner from where we live, or a little further away before and after the strict lockdown. We discovered new paths and took joy every time we saw wildlife (not the bears and wolves our son anticipated), but birds we had never seen before, swarms of butterflies and the usual turtles. We were walking mainly silently.
The second pathway was through the city. We strolled past the Tsoladies (the ceremonial presidential guard), down to Zappeion. Our son had a precise map on his head with the optimal routes for his roller scooter, down to the level of pavement material variations. Of course the stroll was bizarre, passing through sites that were now empty – an opportunity to focus on the architecture. On the edge of Zappeion we discovered a spot that looks old: perhaps a small theatre of late antiquity or the yard of a villa. We still have not figured out what the site is (was). A friend suggested a pun: A circular launch pad in front of a Frank Zappa statue. Our son called it ‘our hideaway’, ran on the circular marble line, watched ants in and out their nests between the cracks of the old mosaic and imagined moles living in under-earth tunnels (he spotted the entrance of such a tunnel). Another daily stop was at the pool with the water turtles: there are 63 of them and the gentleman who takes care of them confined that they grab the occasional pigeon from his leg disembowel and eat it. To the great disappointment of my son we did not witness such a scene. At the end and after hard thinking he concluded that the ‘animals are neither good or bad’.On the way back to our house I served as the engine of his scooter and pushed or pulled all the way uphill.
The third pathway was food. We feel grateful to the local shops that they did not stop their delivery even for one day (thank you Nora, Nataly and everyone at Ideal Fresh). We cooked almost every day. The connotation that comes to my mind whenever I hear of daily emphasis on food is the overindulgence scenes in the dinning room of the “Zauberberg’, but we tried to stick to healthy and ‘Mediterranean’ cooking. We explored old and new cookbooks (between them Ottolenghi’s NOPI and Salt-Fat-Acid-Heat of Samin Nosrat) and discovered recipes that we will include in our repertoire. Our supply of Popi’s olive oil and Naxos’ cheese, honey and capers was interrupted. I guess you call this supply chain regional – so it is already partly restored.
The fourth pathway was reading. I managed to finish ‘Life and Fate’ of Grossman. The title sounds corny but it lives up to its aspirations! As with great Russian novels, I get so much involved and get identified with some of the characters, that I find it hard to keep on reading. I then moved to MacFarlane’s “The Wild Places” and Lino Politis’ Anthology of Poems Part 2, ‘After the Fall’. The highlight of the last is the ‘Tale of the Donkey, Wolf and Fox’. “ Damned Donkey and thrice- cursed/ heretic and and mean, filthy dog/ you ate that leaf of cabbage without vinegar/How comes we did not drown on this journey!”, says the Fox.
Watching the daily announcements of the Civil Protection and the Chief Epidemiologist became an obsession. Tsiodras (the Chief Epidemiologist) had nothing to do with the usual clowns. I think the guy is the last spark of the reaction of science coming together with the tradition of Christian orthodoxy and he seems like an answer to non-compatibility problems endemic to non-Catholic and non-Lutheran traditions. I have the suspicion that some of what he says can be traced back to 8th century solved disputes.
The last pathway was of course technology – the big conceptual network that defines our lives and extends our perception, in a sense the triumph of science and engineering.
Now we are gradually stepping out of the confinement and reconnecting with friends and family, after relentless home schooling, teleworking, having celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, Easter and National Day at home. To what expend is it over? We hope that we will survive until science triumphs again!