What a Difference a Hug Makes

I hugged my daughter last weekend for the first time in three months.   Actually, it was the first time I had hugged anyone in three months so it was a memorable and much missed occasion.  As of today  I have four people I can hug within my social circle – as opposed to the “social gathering” in which we cannot hug.  I am discovering what my neighbourhood  looks like as I cautiously emerge from my  house cocoon as the provincial restrictions gradually loosen.  I find good news: the French bakery (I have been!) and the gelato parlour (I have been!) have re-opened but there is also sad news:  the lovely Italian restaurant on my street corner which has been operated by two generations for the past 60 years has not; they have closed permanently.

I am learning to balance risk with prudence and anxiety with reason as I venture out more often and further afield, modifying my behaviour in the hope of limiting viral spread while tentatively entering a much changed environment and living my life.  I see many closed businesses and imagine the shattered dreams behind those brown paper window coverings.

I miss my walking friends and my life as it was before!  I grieve for all the silenced artists and the theatre, ballet and symphony that I love so much and that were such a large part of my life.  But I remain a defiant optimist and understand that unexpected disruption brings change and change brings  growth; as painful as that is.  And it will be up to us to make those changes good ones.

In the meantime, I look forward to exploring our strange new world and meeting you there for walks once again.  One day, I am certain of it, we will even hug each other again.  Bon courage!

 

 

 

The Waterfront 10K Weekend

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!

On The Humber (By Danielle)

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.

 

Experimenting with normal(ish)…

In an attempt to keep myself motivated to ‘walk the distance’, I have been identifying friends who live within certain distances and walking to see them.  This Saturday, I asked a group of east-ender TPWs  to send me their addresses if they were interested in participating in the experiment. I plotted out a route that brought us together at a half-way point in ones, twos and threes. The complete circuit varied depending on where people were coming from, with the longest being 10-12K.

Our half-way host went above and beyond, offering yummy  baked goods as we kept respectful distances and chatted in her back yard (huge thanks). The day was glorious and it was wonderful to actually see people in person – even if we couldn’t hug. Over the last while, Mother Nature seems to be offering us some apology for COVID by providing one of the most glorious springs that I can remember.

And, as a bonus, on the homeward journey, we came across a woman who was doing a spring purge and getting rid of some unopened art supplies amongst other things. I availed myself of a couple of canvases which I hope will motivate me to do some work with acrylics. Hmmm, maybe a pear…..

For those of you who don’t know, our beloved cemetery is now open from 5:30pm on (and noon on Sundays). Some of the Tuesday night keeners have tested it out on the last two Tuesdays. I found the first time a bit stressful because there were a lot of bike riders but the second time was great. So, if you are interested, grab your hand-sanitizer, don your mask and join us (walking in twos at an appropriate distance) next Tuesday at 5:30. It is almost like normal.

A “spring” in my step

Happy (insert whatever day you think this is) day, walkers!

What a lovely day for a walk today. This week and last, four of us have walked together – responsibly distant – along the lakeshore. Last week we went east from High Park area, enjoying the shut down lanes of Lakeshore Blvd. This week we headed west.

“Heavy with scent” is a phrase on my mind of late. At the beginning of May there was vibrant, vibrant green everywhere. Was it extra lush this year with fewer cars to blur the air? In the last week or so I’ve really noticed the visual has been accompanied by the fragrant. That burst of hot weather made heady everyone and everything. Heavy with scent was led by my favourite, the Lilacs – we passed many on our walk.

Along with the trees and flowers and blue sky – okay, there was plenty of cloud this morning as well – was mother nature putting the stress on “mother”. We came upon two swans and their swaddlings (?) with two of the little ones heads up the mother’s wing.

And then we saw Canadian penguins! When geese tip over to graze below the water, all you can see is their white backside, trimmed in black – looking suspiciously like odd penguins. Canadian, eh? As we were finishing up our walk we encountered these youngsters being shepherded (gooseherded?) by their parents.

So pandemic lockdown or not, the circle of life continues, with or without we humans. Lets keep walking out there and make sure life continues with us.

Notes from the Underground – Day 48 and counting…

(with apologies to Dostoevsky)

What was I thinking?  Oh yes, I wonder what day it is?  It’s so hard to keep track of now.  I don’t think I knew what day it was yesterday either.  No point looking at the calendar because it’s no help; if you don’t know what yesterday was then how can you possibly figure out today? It’s like needing to spell before looking for a word in the dictionary.  I’ll check my phone.  Oh, it’s a Saturday, that’s good.  I have a Zoom call to look forward to.   I’d better get ready.   I wonder if I need a shower, I can’t remember the last time I had one – was it yesterday, or two days ago, or perhaps more?  Oh dear, this social isolation thing is certainly wrecking my personal hygiene.  On the other hand,  if physical distancing can keep a virus away, it can certainly keep  nasty odours away, right?  Perfect; as long as I remain upwind from everyone else, it’s all good.  No one will notice except maybe  Sheba Get off The Table and she isn’t talking.  And  I must really be saving a lot of money on my water bill.  Not to mention doing a lot less laundry, which means I don’t have to walk down the stairs to the basement because at this point getting back up them is a real challenge.  It’s so useful to be able to wear the same pants every day and just change my top.  I have a video chat this afternoon and I only need to be presentable from the waist up.  Bonus.   Now hair is another issue – it certainly hasn’t stopped growing.  I am becoming more and more dependent on large amounts of hair gel just to keep it under control.  If this goes on much longer I will need a machete.  But otherwise from the waist up and neck down, I’m doing just fine! It’s just, I wonder what month this is?

Bleu, Bleu, le monde est bleu.

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!

This is Ridiculous!

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.

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

I am trapped in my condo with my only escape being food, wine and Netflix!  Quickly, send memes, schedule Zoom chats and figure out how to get me  some of those baked goods I keep seeing on What’s App.

Okay, okay, not really that big a deal in the scheme of things. I do have lots of time to think about all sorts of trivial things and so, what with it being May and being in the middle of a pandemic, I got to wondering why/how/when ‘mayday’ became a distress signal?

Here is what Uncle G. tells us:

Mayday got its start as an international distress call in 1923. It was made official in 1948. It was the idea of Frederick Mockford, who was a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London. He came up with the idea for “mayday” because it sounded like the French word m’aider, which means “help me.”

Very appropriate for a duel language country, n’est-ce pas?

I did get out this morning to get some costly cat food at the vet (we spare no expense for evil Leo) and, on route, found myself unexpectedly moved to see the flowers planted in the street planters. How lovely that even now, in a crisis, our city takes the time and resources for such grace notes.

Hang in there everyone – I am looking forward to seeing you, in person, on the other side of this.

Notes from the Underground – Day 25

(with apologies to Dostoevsky)

I opened my eyes and stretched in bed. ” What shall I do today, I wondered?   Shall I wear my gray sweatpants or my pink ones? It’s so difficult to choose.   I checked for the time on my clock radio and then remembered that I am on holiday and sleeping in the guest bedroom; what a lovely change that has been, so exciting!  Tomorrow night it will be back to my usual bedroom.   I really should get up and get some exercise I think, those two flights of stairs going down to the kitchen will be perfect.   Goodness, it’s only 11 am, I wonder why I woke up so early?  Time for breakfast.  Where shall I eat my breakfast?  At the kitchen table, or the dining room table, or maybe the TV room or even my office – just for a change?  The kitchen table I think.  The dining room table is covered with laundry to be sorted, the TV room has a stale popcorn smell and my office would need to be shovelled out first.  All tasks waiting and ready for another day.   Let’s see, what shall I eat for breakfast, perhaps some chocolate ice cream with caramel sauce?  That would start the day nicely, though I did have that yesterday so maybe I should have something else just for nutritional variety.  I have some cookies, they’d be nice with the caramel sauce, or perhaps even better,  the brownies I made?  Excellent; oh I can tell already it’s going to be another lovely day at home!”

P.S. My cat, Sheba (full name: Sheba Get Off The Table) has just told me to: “Suck it up, Buttercup!  I have been inside this house for 8 years, 135 days, 7 hours and 13 minutes.  But who’s counting?”