I don’t know about everyone else, but I have become obsessed and overwhelmed by numbers lately.
I regularly look at the numbers of cases, positive tests and deaths by COVID-19. Every morning I look at the e-coli count at all the Toronto beaches. (Can I find a safe place to swim today?) I look at the water temperature at various beaches (yes, I can swim at 11 degrees); the air temperature; the humidex; the percentage likelihood of thunderstorms; the numbers of people permitted in a “bubble;” the number of people who can gather in a socially distanced group; the number of layers a fabric mask should have; how much gas is left in the car; how many people are in the queue for the local shop; how many kids will be permitted in a classroom after Labour Day; unemployment numbers; etc., etc.
It is exhausting. Some call it doom-scrolling. Some call it being reasonably careful. Whatever it is called, I think it’s time for a break from numbers. Today, I am going to focus on colours. I will look in my garden at the blooming roses, the bright butterflies, and, (why not) the lovely fabrics of people’s masks. There is a bright side!
A member of my family passed this week. The loss was sad. But as I dealt with my feelings, I realized that I am also mourning the world before Covid. Looking for solace, I came across the following.and found it cheering. I have not been able to track its source. It was apparently written by a patient in palliative care. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it.
“Although I love flowers very much, I won’t see them when I’m gone. So in lieu of flowers: Buy a book of poetry written by someone still alive, sit outside with a cup of tea, a glass of wine, and read it out loud, by yourself or to someone, or silently.
Spend some time with a single flower. A rose maybe. Smell it, touch the petals.
Really look at it.
Drink a nice bottle of wine with someone you love.
Or, Champagne. And think of what John Maynard Keynes said, “My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne.” Or what Dom Perignon said when he first tasted the stuff: “Come quickly! I am tasting stars!”
Take out a paint set and lay down some colours.
Watch birds. Common sparrows are fine. Pigeons, too. Geese are nice. Robins.
In lieu of flowers, walk in the trees and watch the light fall into it. Eat an apple, a really nice big one. I hope it’s crisp.
Have a long soak in the bathtub with candles, maybe some rose petals.
Sit on the front stoop and watch the clouds. Have a dish of strawberry ice cream in my name.
If it’s winter, have a cup of hot chocolate outside for me. If it’s summer, a big glass of ice water.
If it’s autumn, collect some leaves and press them in a book you love. I’d like that.
Sit and look out a window and write down what you see. Write some other things down.
In lieu of flowers,
I would wish for you to flower.
I would wish for you to blossom, to open, to be beautiful.”
I confess that I feel nervous. This COVID-19 virus has got me worried. I know the numbers are down in Ontario, but all it takes is one careless person to infect a group of people who believe that they are being careful ENOUGH. However, I have discovered that seeing my wonderful TPW friends is more than worth the risk. What we can offer to one another in just a simple walk is beyond measure. This is some of the best health care we have. We humans do not do well in isolation.
While we cannot hug one another, we seem to have found the verbal form of hugs that can carry us through. Some of us were afraid that the group might dissolve under the stresses of the virus and social isolation, but that has not happened. In fact, I think each of us has taken special delight in seeing that face we haven’t seen in months or hearing the familiar voice that says such comforting words.
Today, we walked in the rain and it was wonderful. Just like the rain on the dry ground, our friends nourish and refresh us, and I am so very grateful
This was to have been the weekend of the Waterfront 10k. I’m really aware of how much slower I am than I would want to be doing that race. My walk this Saturday morning was to and from my daughter’s house for a total of about 9 k. It took me an hour to get there; you do the math! Mitigating circumstances:
- I was wearing a mask and on the lookout for people
- It is uphill the whole way
- I kept having to step off the sidewalk to give people 2 metres.
Still, it’s clear that I will have some serious work to do to get back into any kind of race time. And when will that be?
Some good signs on the horizon.
- 10 Covid vacines are being tested on humans right now
- The Canadian government has a tracking app ready for deployment
- Rates are down. Distancing is working.
Still, I’m not confident there will be a Waterfront race next year. Maybe when I’m 74!
I confess that I did not walk today. The weather was beautiful and cool. The sun was shining, in fact it was a perfect day — for a paddle on the Humber River. Quite a few people in kayaks, on paddleboards, and various sort of quiet watercraft were out dodging geese, swans, egrets, and cormorants. Somehow these birds seem more benign in the water than they do on walking trails or beaches. I don’t even find the red winged blackbirds as threatening when I am on the water. Perhaps that is because I have only been dive-bombed by them when walking.
Here is another benefit: If everyone is using paddles or oars, we naturally keep the proper distance apart, even when greeting one another and chatting about the BEAUTIFUL canoe that my husband made. Like the hockey stick and the length of three Canada geese, the canoe paddle is another great Canadian measure for physical distancing while engaging in safe outdoor activities this summer. And may well all stay safe and well.
I am very susceptible to ear worms. I almost always have one playing a sound track to my day. This Saturday morning, the sad French song “Bleu, Bleu” was in my head. But only the opening lines. Why? I certainly wasn’t feeling sad. The sun was shining. I didn’t need a coat! Most of the bikes were off the Martin Goodman Trail because the eastbound lanes of the Lakeshore were closed to cars for bikes to use. There were lots of families out but it was still easy to social distance. It was a grand morning for a nice long walk.
Then I realized I was responding to colour. The sky was cobalt; the lake was azure. And not just shades of blue, all colours. At my feet were yards of happy dandelion yellow against fresh new-grass green. The trees are still lacy with their tender new chartreuse leaves. And the blush pink magnolia on my route is still in full bloom
And to top off a brilliant walk, I ran into 2 other TPW folk, social distancing down the boardwalk in the opposite direction for a total of 16 kilometers! We stopped to chat. It almost felt normal!
I decided to get a good walk in the morning, instead of staying in bed as I do every other day. “Day” – what does this mean? Like many of us, I know longer know what day it is. I was confident, however, that I knew what season it was.
So I dressed for a typical February day – 2 layers of pants, winter jacket, hat, scarf, mitts. It seemed just about right as I left the house. But wait! Why are there tulips and daffodils in my garden? There were ice pellets striking my face, but I could hear robins and red winged blackbirds.
On my journey to the west along the lakeshore, I encountered another TPW walker and her spouse. They had just seen a mink crossing a bridge and a fox walking down the street. On my way home, I saw a lazy skunk who could not be bothered to scuttle away, and a snowy egret in a pond. I checked the calendar. It said May. I am deeply confused. I am not a subscriber to conspiracy theories, but I think the world is planning something.
Wednesday, April 22, will be the 50th Earth Day. What has happened since that first earth day?
Richard Nixon established the EPA in the US in 1970 in response to public outrage about the effect on wild-life of a major oil spill off the coast of California. At that time, the focus was on pollution and the EPA was given the powers and was able to reduce air and water pollution. The public understanding of the emissions leading to climate change wouldn’t begin to develop for another 20 years. And the serious proliferation of plastic garbage filling our oceans didn’t begin until this century. (Canada’s Environmental Protection Act was passed in 1999.)
The Covid-19 world-wide shut down of commercial air travel, factories, and commuter traffic has had a remarkable impact. Air pollution has drastically reduced in cities that have not seen a clear sky for decades. And the grounding of commercial air flights and the enormous reduction in commuter car traffic has led in this short time to a 0.3% drop in emissions.
Can it continue when we come out of quarantine? Fifty years ago, public outrage changed the way air and water quality was monitored and protected. It’s possible!
Are you losing count of days like I am? I can no longer remember what day of the week, or even what month it is. This physical distancing thing is beginning to get a little old. Mind you, I understand the need and I appreciate the benefits. I too would like to survive this pandemic unscathed. But may I complain a little please?
My husband, whom I love dearly, walks like a sea cucumber. I fully expect to turn around and find a puddle of him where I just walked (perhaps 5 minutes ago?) And he now brings a shillelagh with him when we walk. I am not quite sure why. It may be to help measure the appropriate physical distance between people, it may be to poke around in other people’s gardens to see what is coming up, or it may be to warn me that I am walking too fast for him. Now you know why I joined TPW. No one EVER walks too fast or too slowly! However we walk, there will be at least one other person keeping the same pace.
And I miss hearing about everyone’s life. What are you reading? What have you baked? Is anyone else concerned about the dreaded COVID 15 (lbs.) that I seem to be gaining. How are our knees? Are you tired of Zoom events yet? What is the silliest thing that happened to you this week?
Maybe by the next time we reach the second Saturday of the month, I will figure out the date, but for now, kindly forgive this late entry, sing something silly while you wash your hands and think about how lucky we are to have one another. I send everyone a very clean virtual hug.
Last year, this time, I’d have been writing about the first day of spring. This year, I’m on my fifth day of isolation. Last weekend I had my granddaughters here and I sat with them at their house on Monday. As the pandemic situation became more clear, I decided to go into self-isolation, primarily because I wouldn’t want a health-care worker to have to decide who gets the ventilator – me and a younger person. My version of isolation does include walks along the lake each day. I have also been to the drug store to pick up some medication (and a bag of cat food I saw there.)
So far, it hasn’t been bad. My social life is not face to face but it’s still active. Several hours a day are spent having coffee over voice or video, and responding to messages on facebook, whatsapp, facetime, and plain old text and email. I’ve been gratified to see how all of these media are filled with good wishes for those who are keeping the rest of us safe. And I get regular comforting messages from the supermarkets I use, assuring me I’ll always be able to eat (and buy toilet paper.)
My regular yoga instructor has posted classes on youtube. I have found a grocery delivery that has the odd kind of kefir I like. My cats are just going to have to learn to eat the cat food I can get. I am finally reducing the size of my book pile. I’m being more faithful in journalling.
I may not feel so upbeat in a month but, for now, this isn’t too bad!