A somewhat sober thought

What a glorious day it was for walking on Saturday. Not as cold as was expected and a sky that was bluer than blue! I walked along the lakeshore and the lake was oh, so calm. Wonderful!

Along the way I got to thinking about COVID (what else!?!) and all the restrictions we’re dealing with. This is really tough. And we should be proud of the extent we’re going to abiding with the efforts to curtail the spread. When (not if) we finally get to the end of this it will be a changed world and we can look back with pride at how we handled ourselves.

On another note, I’m currently reading the last in the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. It’s a “weird fiction” set of novels about nature rebelling against the environmental devastation humans are inflicting on it – I’m not finished, but that’s where things seem to be heading.

I guess that, and a sky that seems all the more blue for the reduction in smog, got me thinking that after we’ve survived COVID, maybe we can use the same resolve to become more green. I put if forward that it is much slower than COVID but climate change is just as much of a pandemic as COVID. This is just a practice to show us what we can achieve as a society; an exercise that shows we can tackle huge societal problems.

I’m not going to suggest what to do. Except to do what we always do – read up, share ideas, make recommendations – as we walk our regular walks. Ours is a green activity and we have extraordinary, bright minds in TPW. Here’s to walking on glorious days well into the future.  Let’s just do it.

From Barb

As we enter this last week of January, some random, positive thoughts to focus on:

  • This wonderful, unexpected, warmer than normal January temperatures. Wherever each of us has walked, this has made getting out and walking so much easier and pleasant.
  • Amanda Gorman. What a gift she gave us. To witness such talent, strength, beauty and wisdom so far beyond her years. And so much hope.
  • The vaccines are coming! Yes I know some challenging setbacks, but as a group it looks like we’ll get our jabs by the end of the second quarter?
  • Plans and planning! It is my belief that being able to plan anything helps to normalize this abnormal, almost woozy state we are all living in and through. From Sporting Life to Banff, and events in between.  How sweet it is to share in those details and planning, knowing how special the experiences will be – but also building on all our prior races and adventures with so many memories that bring smiles to our weary faces
  • Our circle of support.  In this pandemic, the term “family” has been tossed around in different contexts. From policy to practicality.  Bubbles and visiting.  All somewhat confusing. For those living alone, and for those whose family members are stretched far and wide, or just not being able to see (or hug) our loved ones, we have relied on our friends and those important social connections to help sustain us. Here’s to our TPW family – wherever you are and wherever you walk.  We know we are likeminded in spirit and connection. And we also know that the joys of walking all together, once more when that time comes, will be even more sweet.

Predictability?

I spend a lot of time trying to get a handle on what is a known known, a known unknown, an unknown known and an unknown unknown about this pandemic.  Mostly I want to know when it will be over so I don’t even have to plan when I’ll be walking with the TPW again.  It will be Saturday morning and, if I don’t have a meeting, Tuesday evening.

I checked the “vaccine calculator” this morning.  Although some vaccines have been held up for delivery, it still forecasts that I will have my vaccine between February and June.  That gives me something to plan toward.  I watch the numbers of new cases in Toronto and make little games for myself.  For example “if the numbers of new daily cases are coming down for 3 consecutive days, I will go to the store instead of ordering my groceries.”  They haven’t and I haven’t.

I won’t list the unknowns!  This is an amazing unintentional psychological experiment.  What is predictable is that TPW members stay in touch with one another!  Thanks to you all.

The Joy of Seed Catalogues

Someone – maybe in a seed catalogue – said that gardens are a belief in the future. Well, so are seed catalogues. I have been sitting in the same chair for what feels like months now and it has been pretty gloomy. Even walking on cold, drizzly and overcast days has not done enough to lift my rear end out of that seat. I even tried the polar bear swim on New Year’s Day. It was invigorating but didn’t look like a long term plan. I don’t think I can talk anyone into joining me until the ice has melted.

But gardens! I can look at seed catalogues and gardening websites for hours and think about how to make my postage stamp garden and flat roof into a whole farm. Well, not really. Even though I can buy seed to grow a 500 lb. pumpkin, I don’t think I will. Now arugula is another story. So are every sort of flower and vine that grow in my heat zone. I may even send to the Netherlands for lisianthus seeds – even though I likely don’t have enough sun to grow the beautiful blooms. As someone once said, “Which plants do gardeners want?” “ALL OF THEM!” “Where will we put them?” “WE HAVE NO IDEA!”

Looking forward …

So much has been said about ‘the year that was’ that the only fitting thing I can think of to add is “Goodbye and good riddance!”

I know we still have a ways to go but here are three of the things I intend to do in 2021, as soon as it is safe to do so.

  • Hug people (great big bear hugs, up close and personal)
  • Eat at restaurants (really want to resume our Saturday breakfasts sitting shoulder to shoulder discussing everything under the sun)
  • Travel for fun (please let the vaccine be widely distributed by the fall in time to do the Banff race!)

As bad as 2020 has been, I do give thanks for TPW which has helped keep me sane and moderately healthy.  I am so amazed  at and grateful for the group’s tenacity and adaptability. Who would have thought a year ago that we would be having outdoor picnics in the snow.  So Canadian, eh?

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

When I went to bed on Christmas Eve, the world outside my door was glistening wet and grey.  When I woke up on Christmas morning, everywhere I looked was laden with luminous white snow draped over bushes and trees, houses and sidewalks; it was such a picture perfect day.                                            The next morning, Boxing Day, we were a small group of seven that gathered at the cemetery gates.   Hardy winter souls ready to enjoy the fresh cool air, the sound of the snow crunching under our feet, the quiet calm of the cemetery on a winter’s morning and most importantly for me, each other’s company.

I took deep breaths of air as I walked, thinking of the pandemic and how we’re still not through the worst of it.  A while ago I heard an Indigenous Elder speak of Covid19 as a message from our planet, our beautiful and precious home.  I hope we are learning to hear that message and to reconsider what we hold as valuable in our society.  The most painful lessons often turn out to be the most instructive.  As Winston Churchill once said:  “Now this is not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

So, warrior walkers, let’s kick 2020 to the curb and walk with each other, one footstep at a time, into that brave new year.

I’ve been feeling a little Grinchy

My shopping has been on-line. Some things weren’t the colour I expected and some didn’t make it all But then…

And he did hear a sound coming over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow.
But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so! But it was merry! Very!
He stared down at Whoville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming! It came!
Somehow or other it came just the same!
And the Grinch with his grinch feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling. “How could it be so?”
“It came without ribbons, it came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
(Thanks, Dr. Seuss)

A grey and rainy Friday night.

It’s Friday night. It has been grey and rainy, and I forced myself to do the grocery shopping – something I used to enjoy and now barely tolerate. WHY is that guy wearing his mask under his chin? Does that lady really need the apple that is directly in front of me? Now I have to decide whether to set the alarm for an early Saturday walk or to turn it off and risk sleeping in until it’s too late to be early. These are the stresses of COVID times.

It was so wonderful to see all 33 faces of our TPW friends on Wednesday. It felt like a big group hug. And it also felt safe. It has been a long time since we have seen one another’s full faces. Yes, there was ZOOM LIPSTICK! But much as I love my TPW friends, I hate being cold and wet. Sleep wins this week. May we all stay safe and rested and get back together when we won’t spend so much time stressing about it.

A holiday season like no other…

There has never been a Christmas that I haven’t spent with family, but this year it will just be my husband and me (and, of course, our evil cat Leo, wearing a special bow). It does make me sad but I do know how privileged I am.  Many people will be truly alone and some will be in need  – they are the ones for whom we need to be showing compassion.  I also know that this is the right thing to do to help beat this disease for all of us.

I confess I was dithering but then my husband said to me “Wouldn’t I feel a fool, it I caught this thing and died, months before a vaccine was available.” That bit of truth, coupled with my rising anger at some of the foolishness that is going on out there, made me bite the bullet. And, although we will be deprived of physical togetherness, we will raise a glass and open presents together over Zoom.

I look forward to celebrating with other groups of friends in a similar fashion, including my beloved TPW gang for our Black and Medals on Wednesday evening.

Stay safe – flaunt our beautiful hand made masks (thank you P) and keep that social distance! We are going to get through this. Wishing everyone good spirits, love and kindness to others.

Let’s Have Some Fun!!!

The news is not good; the second wave of infection is well and truly upon us.  We’re in another lockdown and I am very, very  grumpy about it. Pessimism abounds  (I recently found a definition for pessimists that claims they are the happiest people on earth because:     1.  their dire predictions have proven correct, which means they were right,  or 2. their dire predictions have proven wrong, in which case things were better than they thought!)

In a time of such misery,  I think of words written by Susan Sontag:  “Do Not Suffer Future Pain”.   Each of us has quite enough to deal with in the present moment without projecting  horrors from the uncertain future.  We don’t know what awaits us as we face the unknown;  things could be good,  things could be bad, they could be in-between.  Most likely it will be a combination of all three.  So I try not to suffer future pain as there will be time enough for that, if and when it arrives.

And so I have decided that I must have some fun (safely, of course) to help me get through these winter months – perhaps skating parties with hot chocolate, or walks with my friends on frosty mornings , or a snowshoeing adventure  in a provincial park , maybe lots (and lots!) of sweet treats with tea and good books, and staying connected to the world in every way possible… or thinking up surprises that make others happy (and me feel good)- like sending flowers to a friend, or giving an extra big tip in a coffee shop, donating to a worthy cause or just plain helping out.

Here is a little poem written by Roger McGough called (very appropriately): SURVIVOR

“Every day,  I think about dying.

About  disease, starvation, violence, terrorism, war, the end of the world.

It helps keep my mind off things.”

I think I am feeling better already!