September! It is seen by many as a start of the new year with school and lovely Fall harvests. For others it is the end of Summer and approaching Autumn, followed by Winter. For me September is my birth month and being a bit of a nerd, it was the excitement of a new school year.
This year is different for all of us. Many of us have adapted to changes by signing up and training for virtual fall races. Training has been quiet and introspective. I am doing weight and strength training online, as well as Zumba classes. Zooming (or something similar) has become the way of reaching out.
As we move forward our community of walkers have not slowed down. We continue to connect and encourage others to reach for their goals whatever they may be. We can all give thanks for our friendships and support.
I don’t know if everyone is feeling as confused as I am these days. I need to decide how to feel each morning when I get up. Do I feel happy because a family member got out of hospital or, do I feel upset because I couldn’t be with them when they were brought into emergency? Does my good friend feel happy because she has a new grandchild? Or does she feel sad because she could not be with her daughter when the child was born?
Are we happy because these late summer mornings are so fresh and lovely or, are we sad because this very strange summer is coming to and end? Are we delighted to see our energetic and smiling friends or, are we sad because we can’t get up close for a hug? We are happy to be healthy and afraid that we or our friends and family members may not stay that way. We want to be safe and we want to forget we are living in a pandemic. There are many more questions than answers. Are we missing out? Should we be grateful for our blessings and privileges? I think the answer to these and many more questions is yes. We all need permission to feel many emotions all at once. We are kind to one another. Let’s remember to be kind to ourselves as well.
I have finally, after being sidelined with a sprained foot for over six weeks, been able to rejoin the group over the past couple of weeks and am almost back to normal. I’m still getting my speed and distance up but thrilled to be able to keep up with the group all the way round the cemetery. Thank heavens for the resilience of the human body – even at my mature age!
Being away, has made me even more appreciative of the whole TPW experience – the beauty of the places we walk, the joy of being outside, the comfort of being with friends – even if we have to keep our distances.
Some bits of news – we are going to move back to an 8:30 start on Saturdays at the cemetery (hooray) and we are going to start 4 weeks of hill training as of Tuesday, Sept. 15 at our usual spot at Sherwood Park. Hopefully the weather will remain mild and we can enjoy after-walk pizza on the patio at our favourite place.
Phyllis will be updating us all on the plans for the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon relay but take note that there are couple of spots left – stay tuned.
Wishing everyone a relaxing Labour Day.
Lush. No not the person who starts drinking early in the morning. The vegetation this summer. I heard someone say this weekend that everything was so lush this summer. And she was right. The blooms this year have been wonderful. The trees seem to be wearing their green leaves with more panache than previous years. Is it my imagination? Or has our new, physically distanced, locked down world made us more observant of the small beauties that surround our everyday lives? Or has it been a most lovely summer? I think it’s all of the above.
This time of year has always felt like the start of a new year to me. Far more than January 1st. In normal times we would be heading into the last week of the Ex. School will start soon, and even if you don’t have school-aged children, this year we are all looking towards that start. How will this year play out under these circumstances? The first trees have started to shed their leaves. Fresh corn is everywhere. All of this reminding us that Thanksgiving is not far off. Even in these peculiar times the lush plant life is a joy to behold. Another joy is to join my friends on a Saturday morning for a good walk, filled with friendship and laughter. How to describe this friendship and laughter? Lush.
Saturday, August 22
It was a beautiful morning in the cemetery Saturday, warm but not so much, with a gentle early morning sun and scattered raindrops dripping on us as we walked under the trees. I was very happy to walk with someone I haven’t spent much time with recently so it was a perfect opportunity to catch up as we strolled through the pretty grounds. It felt so good to be amongst friends amid the exchange of conversations and my spirit lifted.
I confess to feeling discouraged earlier in the week, because I was beginning to understand how long this “new normal” might go on. As an antidote, I have sworn off “doomscrolling” (how descriptive a word is that???), that constant stream of unhappy news, so that I can focus on happier things and lighten my mood. And so I offer the words of Satchel Paige, thinking how perfect they are for we TPWs at this time:
“Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move. Go very light on vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain’t restful. Avoid running at all times. Don’t look back. Something may be gaining on you.”
He also said: ” How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” That’s a very good question, don’t you think?!
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!
As I write this, it is pouring and I am feeling sorry for myself.
I have been sidelined with a sprained foot for 3 weeks – and am looking at another week, at least, before I think I can join the gang again. Okay, it is a minor injury and it is healing, but, really, on top of COVID and just when I was getting back in the walking groove with my TPW buddies – very cranky making!
I really miss the walking and, maybe even more, I miss the company as I have throughout the lock down.
So, a reminder to us all, enjoy every step, every walk, every conversation. Savour the sensory delights of foot in front of foot; arms swinging; the smell of grass; the beauty of the cemetery’s greenery or the waterfront’s every changing view; and the voices of our friends chatting, punctuated often by laughter.
There, the rain has stopped and I have talked myself into feeling better. How lucky we are – I can hardly wait to rejoin you all.
I am looking forward to joining some of the group for a planned picnic lunch on the Toronto Island on Aug. 15. If you are interested, put it in your calendar and stay tuned.
That actually wasn’t a question for me because I DID sleep in on Saturday morning and therefore missed the, I am certain, lovely walk with the group in the cool morning air of the cemetery. I have no excuse other than it was lovely to lie in the stillness of early morning, uninterrupted and calm. Undisciplined definitely, but then that leaves lots of room for improvement, doesn’t it? Redemption shall be obtained next Saturday. And does anyone else experience stiffness in the joints first thing in the morning? What’s that about? Is this what aging means? I think of Leonard Cohen: “I ache in the places where I used to play”.
But I take consolation from a little book that I have called: “Age Doesn’t Matter Unless You’re a Cheese.” In which Fred Astaire says: “Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.” And horse trainer Horatio Luro, explaining the secret of his eighty years says: ” Swim, dance a little, go to Paris every August, and live within walking distance of two hospitals.” Ann Landers said: “Inside every seventy-year old is a thirty-five year old asking: What happened?”
But my favourite so far is what financier Bernard Baruch said: “To me, old age is always fifteen years older than I am.” I can live by that one!
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.”