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.
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!”
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?
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.
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)
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.
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.
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, Ithinkaboutdying.
Aboutdisease, starvation, violence, terrorism, war, the end of the world.
I walked the lakeshore from my place to Sunnyside and back Saturday morning, about 9k. I was alone so had lots of time to ruminate. What came up were so many memories linking the shore to my time with TPW!
I walked this lakefront from western beaches to eastern beaches and back again when I was training for my first (and only) marathon twelve years ago with Jean’s Marines and for lots of “halves.”. And my very first race, the Harry Rosen was in High Park thirteen years ago – I still love that shirt. (Seven agonizing kilometres with hills!) I recall the first time I walked “to the bathroom and back” in under 60 minutes.
Since TPW was formed from the Jean’s Marines’ walking group, we’ve walked the lake shore every summer. I’ve watched people tackle distance and time. But more importantly, I’ve had companionship. I remember hundreds of breakfasts at the Grenadier, summer brunches on the patio at Sunnyside, picnics at the farmer’s market, roti at Caribana. I’ve been there when malicious pavement has reared up to cause eyes, noses, elbows and knees to bruise, bleed and break. I’ve watched people get more physically fit and listened and learned as they worked through problems in their lives. I’ve mused over cloud formations and human relations with fellow walkers.
I missed that fellowship this summer. I hope we’ll be back in May.
The beautiful weather this week has been an unexpected gift from Mother Nature, making Saturday’s walk a special treat. It was even warm enough to enjoy our coffee and tea, accompanied by delicious cookies (thank you N!) at our very own outdoor gathering spot (thank you B).
And then, on my return home, I was welcomed with another extraordinary gift – the Biden/Harris ticket prevailed (hooray)! I could hardly believe how relieved I felt. I know our giant neighbour and traditional friend has a long way to go (I do not envy the job that has to be done) but at least there is now some cautious hope back.
It does make me realize how fragile democracies are and reminds me how vigilant we all need to be to make sure ours remains strong and vibrant. And, oddly enough, that brings me full circle back to our group. I think it all starts with being good to each other, making room for everyone’s voice, practicing respectful listening – basically, doing onto others as you would have them do onto you (and, of course, voting).
Let’s all raise a toast to new beginnings globally and continue fostering our own small democratic group locally!