Pandemic Perspective from up the River

Teleworking since March 13th, I have been taking walks at a distance with neighbours, going to local farm stores and grocery stores, the pharmacy and natural food store and trying to keep the required 6 feet away from others.  Beyond that I have stayed close to home where I am privileged enjoy open fields and forest and to take my dog for lovely romps, allow myself to breathe deeply, feel the sun on my skin, look at the blue sky and feel very grateful indeed.

This week, the week of March 22nd, I curtailed my wanderings even further as the situation had escalated and we all were reminded to do absolutely everything, even here in the hills, to ensure distance; to stay home for 14 days with the bare minimum of external connection with others.

The internet at the best of times is a double-edged sword; a comfort and a worry. In this age of instant information from diverse channels, we are both informed and alarmed, and yet the sharing of art, poetry, music and stories through social media provide joy, comfort and connection. I am grateful for all those who share love and beauty in this time of crisis. It is a blessing.

As a teller of tales, I would like to share with you three anecdotes from my week that illustrate my life under the Covid-19 umbrella.

Sunday, I set out to meet my neighbour, Hilary, to go for a walk and drop off some paprika for another neighbour down the road, Anne.  No sooner was I on the road and in the dip just past my lane, when gun shots erupted.  Jesus, I though, invoking Cormac McCarthy’s, post-apocalyptic novel, The Road. Collecting myself, I assumed someone was hunting.  I saw two big trucks with Ontario license plates parked on the road and smoke from a fire rising from the field beyond. Who were these interlopers and were they allowed to be hunting?

I pulled out my cell phone and told my husband to come and check it out and drive me to a place on the road where I was a safe enough distance from potential cross-fire. He did so, but after dropping me off I saw him turn around and park behind the two big trucks.  I felt uncomfortable.  Don’t like messing with anyone touting guns. I carried on walking when suddenly two cars, also with Ontario plates, came racing down the road at breakneck speed, each car with two young men respectively.  I climbed on a snowbank and the driver of one vehicle gave me a nonchalant wave as he careened on down the road.

My imagination got the better of me.  I thought what if the owners of the truck had messaged their buddies and told them that there was a red car near their trucks snooping about and suggested they come by to scare off the individual who might be investigating whether their activity was legal. I messaged my husband to say do not stop where there are people with guns!! I had already taken a picture of their license plates. My husband, Steve, did not respond. I tried again, no response.  I then saw my neighbour coming down the road and shared my misgivings.

Together we made our way back to the crest where I could no longer see our car.  Hilary is a social worker and an expert at de-escalation, but I was anxious.   I messaged my husband again, still no response.  Hilary was giving me all sorts of reasons why he was not responding, but none made sense. I was in fright mode.

We got to my lane and Hilary said she would run up to the house.  I continued to try the phone with no response to any messages.  That heightened my anxiety. Enough time had passed to allow Steve to return home and respond to messages!  I now had the young men abducting him and the car.  Oh yeah, very fertile imagination.  Long story short, Hilary arrived at the back door of the house, saw the car parked nearby, knocked on door to see Steve alive and well and messaged me accordingly.

To wrap the drama of that not so quiet start to my week, the police did come by, the people hunting were legitimate, and Steve was issued an ultimatum by me to have his phone with him at all times when wife out on a walk-about!

Second anecdote is a happy one.

On Monday, two of my three children, two spouses, and 6 of my 8 grandchildren, enjoyed a virtual coffee morning and discussed everything from the virus to how the kids and parents were managing in this time of self-isolation. Coping strategies and laughter were shared.

The upshot of our morning session, led to an acknowledgement of the need for some adult time.  Time to have a beer, pour a glass of wine and speak freely on anything and everything.

Here, at what we all affectionately call the Farm, bonfires are part of our summer and winter fun and there is considerable jollification and a lot of laughter as we bask in the warmth of the fire and the love we all have for one another. Understanding the need for connection being essential for all of us, we decided to have an adult virtual campfire every Sunday night when the kids are in bed. First fireside chat to take place tonight.

My final anecdote is one that really helped to lighten the load and made me laugh out loud.  In fact whenever I think of it , I laugh.

My son, Shaun and his wife, Catherine, share four beautiful boys and live in Dawson Creek, BC.  The oldest two boys Julian and Dominic, developed a schedule that they were going to follow in view of the current situation.  Time for studies, time for movies, computer, fresh air time, meals, grooming, bedtime books and stories.  Beautifully done and one week in, the boys are keen and very respectful of their schedule. 

In one of the scheduled lesson times, Julian, who is in the immersion program in the school where his father is Principal, was leading his very clever and attentive younger brother, Felix in a counting lesson in French. It is simply the best.  I invite you to see for yourself by clicking the video clip below. Laughter is indeed such good medicine!