The Australia Letter is a weekly newsletter from our Australia bureau. This week’s issue is written by Besha Rodell, a columnist with the Australia bureau.
There are blossoms on the trees in Melbourne and days of cold rain and blustering wind, but also days of sweet-smelling breezes and warm sunshine. This has been a hard year for my hometown, which is still undergoing one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns because of the pandemic.
But this week, finally, I sense a new collective emotion in the city after months of resignation and sadness. As our Covid-19 case numbers steadily drop and restrictions ease ever so slightly, the mood of the city feels like the weather: unpredictable and slightly chaotic but warmer, more ebullient. It feels like hope.
Small things make a huge difference. Single people are now allowed to visit one other household, meaning my sister has again taken up her rightful place on my couch a few times a week, a comfort I won’t ever take for granted again. We are now allowed to gather outdoors in groups of two, and as a result the parks and median strips are again dotted with people sitting on blankets soaking up the sunshine. Melbourne seems to be coming back to life slowly, like the budding trees around us.
This is not to say that the worries of the greater world are being ignored. In my neighborhood this week, I overheard people fretting about the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the potential for the U.S. Senate to rush through a new Supreme Court justice before the presidential election.
While taking advantage of one of my new freedoms — as of this past week, Melbournians are allowed two hours of outdoor time rather than one — I walked behind a mother and son on the Park Street bike trail as she explained to him all the ways that President Trump could hold on to power even if he technically loses the election.
But despite these worries, and so many others, I am allowing myself great gulps of joy and hope, emotions that have been scarce these past few months. I am so proud of my city, its resilience and deep sense of community and shared responsibility. I remind myself that joy and hope are not finite resources, and even in troubled times it is appropriate to find and feel as much happiness as possible.
How are you finding happiness these days? Let us know at email@example.com.
Here are this week’s stories:
Race to Rescue Hundreds of Whales Stranded Off Tasmania. More than 450 pilot whales became stranded on the west coast of the island state in Australia. Rescuers estimate that over half of them have already died.
New Zealand Is ‘On the Right Track,’ Prime Minister Says. Coronavirus restrictions on travel and gatherings were lifted across most of New Zealand starting at midnight on Monday.
2 Men Working to Map World War II Bombs Are Killed by One. The aid workers had taken the device to the home they were sharing in the Solomon Islands, which are littered with unexploded ordnance.
Israeli Accused of Sexual Abuse in Australia Can Be Extradited, Court Says. Australia has been seeking Malka Leifer’s extradition for six years so she can face 74 charges of sexual assault stemming from her time as the principal of an ultra-Orthodox school in Melbourne.
Around the Times
Protests Grow After Decision Not to Charge Officers Who Shot Breonna Taylor. A grand jury on Wednesday indicted a former Louisville police detective on charges of reckless endangerment for his role in the raid on the home of Breonna Taylor, but the two officers who shot Ms. Taylor six times faced no charges.
Trump Won’t Commit to ‘Peaceful’ Post-Election Transfer of Power. In response to a question, the president complained about mail-in ballots and said: “There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.”
Ginsburg Honored as Champion of Justice as Battle Over Seat Continues. Mourners paid their respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court, but President Trump made clear he would not respect her dying wish.
Covid-19 May Have a Hidden Impact on the Heart. Should that change how we think about its risks? This is what the research tells us.
China, Seeking a Friend in Europe, Finds Rising Anger and Frustration. Beijing’s hopes of using Europe as a counterweight to the United States have faltered as country after country confronts China over trade, Hong Kong, human rights and other issues.