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?”

Earth day 2020

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!

A Little Complaint

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.

Walking in the new reality…

It is hard to believe that just a month ago, close to 30 of us were socializing at my house, pressed close to each other with lots of hugs and enthusiastic close up conversations.  It seems like another world.

This morning, with our beloved cemetery closed, I went out walking on my own. In prep, I washed my hands, slathered on the hand goo, made sure I had wipes and a handmade mask in my pocket, put on gloves and off I went.  I used the stairs, not the elevator, dutifully observing the blocked off space around the doorperson’s desk, opened the door with my shoulder and hit the street.

I carefully eyeballed any approaching pedestrian to figure out how to maintain at least 6 ft between me and them.  It created some interesting dance like moves as we weaved and dodged around each other.  Most people were very polite and more friendly than in the olden days pre-pandemic – lots of smiles, hellos and good mornings. Several people paused as I hurriedly, took a snap of the first spring daffodil I have seen. Of course there were exceptions – the runner who thought she deserved the middle of the path while I clung to the marshy edges and the group of people who hadn’t heard of single file.

We needed some groceries so I ended my walk at our local No Frills but there was a long lineup so I took a chance and added two blocks to my walk and went to the Longos. No lineup, in and out in a jiff.

At home, I repeated my washing routine and then wiped down the groceries. Felt like I had been on a major expedition fraught with danger and I was glad to be back home, even if I am getting a little stir-crazy.

What a strange new world this is. Keep the faith my wonderful Walkers.

 

Digging Deep

I didn’t walk with the group on Saturday morning; I am being abundantly cautious as my daughter is staying with me while she waits for her partner to clear self-isolation.  They have three more days of separation before she can return to their apartment and I didn’t want to do anything that might  jeopardize their reunion.  What strange and difficult times we are in!  And yet I think of my mother living in London during the blitz; enduring  56 days and nights of continuous bombing.  Perhaps this pandemic will be the 21st century’s world war, only this time against an invisible adversary.  We will be changed by this experience and the world will be a different place when our lives return to some semblance of normalcy.   And return they will for I am an eternal optimist, I always have been.  But to get from here, in the thick of uncertainty,  to there, when we may reconnect with all that has meaning to us (like all of us walking together again!) , I am reminded of my first half marathon when I paced myself with another more experienced walker.  At the 17km mark when I thought I couldn’t take another step she said to me, “this is when we have to dig deep”.  So dig deep my friends and when we do, we will get to the finish line.

I like these words from  a poem called The Weighing by Jane Hirshfield:

So few grains of happiness
measured against all the dark
and still the scales balance.

The world asks of us
only the strength we have and we give it.
Then it asks more, and we give it.