The sun may have decamped to the orange and green zones, leaving the streets filled with masked men and women, but let’s not forget there are still good things going on.
• The processionary caterpillar is an annual nuisance in less built-up areas of Belgium, destroying vegetation and causing skin irritation to anyone who brushes against one. This year the authorities in Antwerp province decided to try a biological weapon to combat the creatures: blue tits and great tits, who happen to consider the caterpillar a delicacy. The result: 350,000 caterpillars consumed at the rate of about 800 per bird. “An unexpected success,” said provincial representative Fons Hannes.
• Alain Ndemefo, a 31-year-old Brussels man who single-handedly put out a fire in June in the Marolles district of Brussels. Alain called the fire brigade, but by the time they arrived he had tackled the fire himself. This week he was awarded a medal by Brussels-City mayor Philippe Close for his bravery.
• The signposts for lost children on the beaches of Belgium’s coast have a new recruit: joining the heart, the smiley and the laughing poop comes a figure wearing a red cross and a face mask, in tribute to the country’s medical and support staff in the care sector. Also new this year: a signpost topped by a happy ghost.
• The roundabout directly in front of the Antwerp airport at Deurne has been renamed after Paula Marckx, who was the first female pilot in Flanders, and who took flying lessons at Deurne. As well as a journalist and a pilot, Marckx sued the Belgian state over the rights of unmarried mothers and won. She died last week at the age of 94.
• The five care homes in Ghent changed the brand of coffee served to residents from Douwe Egberts to a fair trade product, but the residents rebelled. Now juries from each of the homes will judge samples of new coffees to choose one they prefer. “We are people of a certain age, and we have grown attached to particular tastes,” said one resident.
• The city of Mechelen is giving away dozens of benches and picnic tables to residents who don’t have a garden of their own to spend their staycation this corona year. The furniture will allow them to spend time on the pavement in front of the house, at the same time meeting and getting to know their neighbours.
• Meanwhile a “citizen garden” installed by a couple in Schaerbeek in Brussels in a parking space in front of their terraced house has been replaced by a large planter, thanks to a loophole in the law. Although the garden was directly in from of their own garage door, it was not allowed and was removed by communal workers. But a planter on top of a handcart is allowed, and now the street is again that little bit greener.