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The Year of the Rat

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

Click below to download the ebook. Scroll to the end of this post to download a PDF.

When President Macron announced the beginning of mandatory home confinement in France last spring, as an emergency measure against the spread of Covid-19, Patrick and I were in Avon-sur-Seine, a 40-minute train ride from Paris. This is the town where we have spent the past six winters. “Le confinement” began on March 17 and was finally lifted on May 11. Ordinarily, we would have returned to the U.S. at around this time. Instead, we decided to remain in France.

In September, I started leading a couple of writing workshops, via Zoom, that focus on keeping a diary. Kimball Library in Randolph, our Vermont home, agreed to host the "Homebound Diaries" workshop series.

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My records of the year 2020 are spread all over the place—in notebooks, on scraps of paper, in photographs on iCloud. I admit: I am not an A+ archivist. I am a maker of messes. So this diary, this work-in-progress, is an attempt to tidy up.

Yesterday, I downloaded a bunch of photos from Facebook, copied and pasted the captions, and created an ebook for easy sharing.

Facebook is not really set up for deep reflection, so you won’t find much of that here. Instead, you’ll see pictures of sewing projects, sunsets, and old family photos. My 2020 “diary” began as a record of the quilt I was making. In late March, I put aside the quilt and began working on a family photo archive with my brother, who was stuck at home in Vermont. For fifty-five days, I watched spring arrive through the window (we live in a second-storey apartment surrounded by forest). I took pictures of the sky.

My posts during the spring helped me to stay positive, to appreciate each day, despite the daily onslaught of terrible news. I was lucky. As a writer, I thrive on peace and quiet. Isolation is my friend. Besides, I had Patrick for company. And we were healthy.

As I write, Europe is experiencing a second wave of the virus. France is especially hard hit, and we are in a "red zone." ICUs are filling up. Officials are threatening new restrictions. People are tired and angry.

Let’s not talk about the U.S.

This diary is a work-in-progress. Follow our blog for installments. The remainder of 2020 promises to be eventful.

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