Today Eric drove us a short drive to this 1 hour circular walk. Simply beautiful. Ħajt tas-sejjieħ glowing in the Maltese sunlight with fields of green, mimosa and almond trees well and truly in the spring of their life cycles. Birdsong everywhere and a sky to die for. As I walked I tried to make sense of the sizeable number of people all over social media who attempt to shame people like us who continue to spend time in the Maltese countryside in the time of Covid-19.
It’s not like we’re at risk of becoming infected with Covid-19 in the countryside. We’re used to being outdoors; it’s something we have always done as a family. Obviously we practise social distancing and the odd time we see people in the distance we make sure that we are more than 2 metres away from them when we pass them.
It’s not like we’re breaching any measures introduced by the Superintendent of Public Health, Prof Charmaine Gauci either. This is what Legal Notice 112 of 2020 has to say about being outside:
The Superintendent of Public Health hereby orders that, in public spaces, groups of more than three (3) persons are prohibited including in queues and bus stops:
What do people understand by the word countryside, I wonder?
When I think back to the days before Covid-19 I remember the busy Sundays when we used to encounter picnickers by the roadside with everything but the kitchen sink – barbecues, picnic tables, chairs, the radio in the car full blast – having a wonderful time with their extended family and friends. Five minutes away from this cacophany of noise and there’s hardly anybody crossing your path.
Is this where the confusion lies? Do most people in Malta have a different idea of what is meant by ‘countryside’? Is this what they imagine constitutes a visit to the countryside?
And then I understand. Most people have become detached from nature. They see it as extraneous. As though human beings have absolutely nothing to do with nature. As though human beings do not essentially depend on nature. The trees taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Maltese agriculture producing our vegetables, our fruit and indirectly our meat. We get most of our food from abroad, don’t we. Agriculture is unimportant. We can get by without it. Or so people think.
The people who do not see anything wrong in mature trees being chopped down to make way for wider roads to accommodate yet more four by fours are the same people who think that going out in the countryside simply means taming it to suit your needs, to park the car in a field or by a food stall. Do they move any distance at all from their car? No, not at all.
I take this thought further still. Of course, this is the reason why the Maltese Planning Authority is allowed to continue with its trail of destruction everywhere it stamps a dirty APPROVED all over the paperwork. People are ok with state sanctioned attempts to tame the earth.
Most people do not appreciate nature. It’s as simple as that. They don’t understand that, for some, being in touch with nature is an essential. It’s healing. It’s as essential as the oxygen you breathe and the food you eat.
Now imagine if most people did appreciate nature. If they did roam the countryside and marvel at its beauty. If they didn’t stop by the roadside just to mimic their living rooms.
How I wish Covid-19 would make people understand the fragility of our existence. How one minute you are lording it over Planet Earth, abusing it, wrenching trees from it, polluting it with pesticides, spreading concrete over it, building in valleys... And then the next you are forbidden from seeing people other than the people in your own household. All because of a microscopic pathogen. If only every single person roamed the countryside, and marvelled at its beauty, we would maybe then stand a better chance of living in harmony with nature. We would maybe then respect our place in the circle of life which includes so many other living organisms. We are not the be all and end all.
If we are not good at understanding that we share the planet with thousands of other species, we are also not good at showing solidarity with members of our own species who need help. Our leaders are letting us down again. Prevaricating about the saving of lives. I am numb with the constant failures of leadership everywhere I look. How do we deal with this? I so hope that when I wake up later on today, the crisis has been averted and social justice prevails.
Today I had a glimpse of what our education system will look like around the time I retire. No, I don't mean that our students and teachers will no longer be in a physical classroom. All I can say is that I can see how the technology out there, that I didn't even know existed, is going to augment and organise our learning and teaching into something more manageable and, at the same time, infinite, in its scope to reach and engage all pupils.
Today, I attended the last 2 of the 3 webinars on Microsoft Teams. This was a taster. The objective was to show the possibilities and not to make us proficient. That will take years. It had to take the tiny pathogen Covid-19 to kick start a shift in the way we use available technology to enhance the learning and teaching experience in our classrooms.
After the heavy rain of a few days ago, our electric oven was tripping the circuit breaker every time I put the oven on. A reminder that all is not well with our electrical wiring. This is not the first time it has happened. Like the last time, the oven eventually - once the wiring dried, I suppose - stopped the tripping. How I'd love to gut the kitchen and start again, wiring and all.
I find the idea of finding an electrician to do some work daunting in the best of times. In the time of Covid-19 I didn't even bother going through the motions of looking for one. I recently read about a woman whose washing machine broke down. Her new washing machine was delivered to her doorstep but the person delivering it refused to enter the house so there it remained.
All this made me stop and think of my grandmother's generation. My grandmother had 5 children under the age of 7 during World War II. She went on to have 3 more after the war. How on earth did people manage the hurly burly of running a household with that many children, without a washing machine or the internet or any number of things we take for granted?
I suppose you make do if you have to. You make the best of things. I'd already identified some hob recipes - kusksu, froġa, soups... My mum reminded me about qarabagħli mimli in broth today. I think I'll still go ahead and put it on the menu for next week.
For years now I haven’t felt quite right. I find it hard to switch off. I’ve gone from somebody who used to enjoy her holidays after intense terms at school to somebody who doesn’t get as much enjoyment from them any more. From the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, I feel wired most of the time. It’s like there is a before and an after. I’m still trying to pinpoint the event in my life which came just after the before and just before the after. I suspect it’s the years of grind, of relentless struggle, the days after that day in August 2013 when I stood at the check out with my son and the bottom of my world fell out.
It’s as though my physiology has become accustomed to the adrenalin, as though I’m in a constant flight or fight response. It doesn’t help that there hasn’t been resolution to all the conflicts. It doesn’t help, of course, that I am surrounded everywhere I look by people even more traumatised by the dysfunctional malevolence of the Maltese state. Every time some calamity befalls another person, I’m there feeling that blast of callous, indifferent malice with them.
My only reprieve is when I’m out with my family in the countryside I love. Or in the sea. Or lost in a book or a good film.
So, this Covid-19 quasi quarantine would be a good time for me to get to the bottom of this, once and for all, I've been thinking. A time where I could be kind to myself and find some way back to being the person I used to be, if that is at all possible.
I will get there. But maybe not this week. Distance teaching is more time consuming than I thought. There are also possibilities to explore, skills I want to learn. Microsoft teams, for example. Paperless learning – I’m intrigued by the possibilities of that. The distillation of a lesson into its essence. With all the anecdotes to illustrate a teaching point, the questions, the examples...
This evening I watched Immanuel Mifsud recite his beautiful poetry. So generous of him to distract us away from the trials and tribulations of this period in time. Later we watched Marriage Story on Netflix. Amazing performances by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. All in all an emotional evening.
These are a few of the major news stories of the week:
If Steward Ltd contract is rescinded, ex Minister Konrad Mizzi has fixed it so that the Maltese government - ie. us - will still have to pay Steward Ltd 100 million euro.
Yesterday was the first month anniversary of the death of Miriam Pace in the rubble of her own home.
On Monday, 6th April, it will be 1 year since the racially motivated murder of Lassana Cisse.
There is a huge data leak of various personal details of 337 384 voters compiled by C-Planet IT Solutions Ltd for PL, with an indication of voting preference .