I think back over the last three weeks. How is it possible that so little time has elapsed but so much has changed? The worldwide COVID-19 situation, our response, even our vocabulary (social distancing, self isolation…) are in constant flux. I have gone from no worries to big worries mixed with confusion, guilt, reflection and gratitude. I’ve had a frustrating number of false starts on this post. I don’t usually deviate from my travel and hiking themes but I feel the need to get a few things off my chest.
March 6: A family friend on her way back from vacation in Mexico stops by to visit my 86-year-old mom who is at a care centre. I am happy for my mom, who despite advanced dementia, recognizes her. I am not worried.
March 8: I attend a huge Zumba fundraiser (yes Zumba dancing is another passion). Some people hip bump. I hug. I am not worried.
March 11: I volunteer at our local multicultural centre, assisting newcomers from China and Iran with their English. I see a container of Clorox wipes to disinfect the desks. It gives me a niggling chill but I’m not too concerned.
March 12: I board a flight to Calgary for a long weekend visit with my sister. I considered postponing the trip, not due to coronavirus concerns but because the forecasted minus 25 °C temperatures might mess up our outdoor activity plans. I have a whole row to myself. Hmm, maybe I should be worried?
March 13: Our prime minister’s wife is diagnosed with COVID-19; my son and nieces’ universities cancel all classes; my mom’s care centre is on lockdown; the toilet paper aisle at my sister’s large grocery store is empty. It’s Friday the 13th–the blocks are tumbling down and it’s starting to sink in. But, when my brother-in-law suggests we cancel dinner reservations at a great restaurant I’m slightly peeved at what I think is alarmist.
March 14: Finally, after countless attempts, one of my travel articles gets published in The Globe & Mail, Canada’s largest newspaper. The full page story looks great. Will anyone read it or care?
March 16: At the Calgary airport, on my way back to Vancouver, I look for empty spaces; on the flight, I keep my flimsy scarf wrapped around my face; in the train, from the airport to the city, I repeat the mantra don’t touch your face.
March 17-19: Twice I go for a snow hike with a good friend who has just returned from Phoenix. She should be self-isolating but with uncharacteristically gorgeous weather we both convince ourselves that 2 metre social distancing is OK. The provincial government closes access to these hikes a day later and tells us that stuff like this is not OK.
March 20: I go to our grocery store to stock up before my son gets home from university in Ontario. He will finish the rest of the semester online. The aisles are bare. I scoop up the last few Brussels sprouts (even in a crisis they don’t sell) and a handful of sweet potatoes. There’s no toilet paper.
March 22: My son, our health officials, the stats from here and around the world have gotten through to me. I mostly stay home. My disinfectant spray is working overtime. When I go for a neighbourhood walk, I keep my distance. I’m really careful with our food supply–I bite off my hubby’s head for tossing out a bit of leftover pasta. I’ve reduced my toilet paper consumption (pardon the image). I think a lot about how wasteful I’ve been.
March 23: I have an uncontrollable need to clean out my drawers. Is it only because I have more time on my hands or is it that it gives me some small measure of control? My sock drawer is a disaster and I’m reminded of all the excess stuff I’ve accumulated. What should I do with all the single socks?
Today: I walk to a local beach. There’s just one man there with his dog. The snow-capped peaks look more beautiful than I’ve ever seen them, the clouds somehow more majestic. An eagle flies overhead. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? But today, I’m grateful for where I live, for my family and friends, for having the financial means to weather a rough patch, for the folks risking their own health to provide essential services, for technology that lets me stay connected and do online Zumba, for my brother-in-law who was not alarmist but justifiably cautious.
Tomorrow:…which is actually today. Before I could finish and publish my post, I over-zealously wiped down my keyboard with disinfectant. Now, the i’s and o’s don’t work. I’m trying to finish this off on an old laptop that’s giving me grief. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
I know I’m going to continue with my Brittany series. Writing about travel makes me happy and as James from Plus Ultra reminded me, travel stories “provide something positive to look forward to in these unprecedented times.”
All the best to you and your families.
Scenes from my last three weeks: