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.”
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
Under the shady grave trees
We share our stories.
Molten summer sun
Shade patches like mountain pools
Slick with salty sweat
Head down to regain myself
I’ve done my distance.
For those of you interested in joining the Saturday group at the cemetery, we are now starting at 8am to beat the heat (and there are some keeners who start earlier). Remember to keep an appropriate distance, hydrate and use sun screen – it is hot out there!
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!
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.
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.
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.