The end of winter in the Riviera is celebrated with the arrival of the Mimosa, the bright, yellow, fuzzy pompom that grows on trees in the hills of the region and takes up residence this time of year in every florist shop. You don’t have to actually see it to know it’s there, as its presence is signaled by a pungent scent of honey and citrus. This year, it arrived early along with a preternatural warmth, and in the current Covid gloom it was, even more than usual, a joyful sight.
At the height of the season, I went with a couple of friends for a hike through a Mimosa forest in a park above Mandelieu-La Napoule, the flower’s capital. A mad headache drove me to rest in a shady spot, most likely attributed to an allergic reaction to the flower, which grew on every bush and tree surrounding me. I suppose Mimosa is a pleasure best taken in small doses.
Nevertheless, thank god for that outing. We are in lockdown this weekend and next, to prevent families from indulging in risky group behavior during the spring school holidays. As in the first lockdown last March, the Promenade and the beaches are off-limits. There’s talk from the Prefect of a prolonged lockdown in the départment, one of 20 most highly affected out of a total of 94. The 6pm to 6am curfew is still in force every day.
I’ve had my two doses of the Pfizer vaccine (I was fatigued and felt malaise for one day after the second) and David starts his on Monday. With less than three million vaccinated, France is far behind on its vaccination campaign, and that’s part of the reason ICUs in our départment are at 102.8% capacity compared to 68% nationally. Another is the highly transmissible UK variant, responsible for more than half of all cases in the country.
When this Covid era is finally over, I imagine we’ll be over-indulging in kinds of pleasures, floral and otherwise. Travel, cinemas, restaurants and hugs are recalled nostalgically, but I wonder, outside of the hugs, how fast all those other activities will be taken up again. Personally, I’ve enjoyed enduring the winter without as much as a single cold, which must be due to general mask-wearing. Furthermore, how long will it take post Covid restrictions to feel comfortable in a crowded indoor space, or to even socialize in a small group? How many of the favorite old establishments will return? Rumor has it that various global mafias are buying up closed shops and restaurants to launch money-laundering schemes.
For better or for worse, it’s difficult to believe everything will be as before.