Sheltering – Adapting Activities

May the force be with you!

I’ve been retired for more than a few years now but that doesn’t mean that before the pandemic I puttered around cleaning my house or maybe cooking great meals. There were other things to do. I am on the local library board, a member of the local arts council, and our adult learning board.

I am part of a painting group that meets at the Anglican Church in town. Everyone who takes part is of a certain vintage and the sessions were in the afternoons on a Tuesday and Thursday. Obviously, this has suffered the fate of so many pastimes and there have been no meetings since the beginning of April. However, one member set up a group text and we have kept in touch that way. Covid 19 has been tough on creativity for some, and there hasn’t been a flurry of texts with new paintings, but there has been contact to keep up with everyone’s news OR lack of. Why not a Zoom Meeting, Google Hangouts, Houseparty? I did say we were of a certain vintage. Still the texts work and some days my phone pings often.

The one “project” since Covid.

My writing group meets once a month, usually on a Thursday that suits the 5 of us. We’ve missed a meeting and now, in May, we should be getting together. Despite the “loosening” of restrictions, it isn’t going to happen. Instead (with the deadline of May 14), we are going to email one another a new piece of writing- a poem, an essay, a reflection, a short story. With a little motivation, it’s easier to do some of the things you normally would, just in a different way.

So…even retired people of a certain vintage can find ways to continue with their interests. It isn’t the same but it’s better than not doing anything. When the pandemic calms down, we can go back to the meetings and gatherings. We’re not there yet so I will write something for my writing group and email it and I’ll try and produce a painting…stay safe. Find a way to do what you like.

Sheltering- Covid Coping

Alberta winters train you for sheltering in place and that’s why the self isolation in spring is so difficult. We wait six months to get out of the house, to make plans that don’t involve checking road conditions, to golf, to camp, to have a bevvie on a patio.

This winter, Gary and I fed a robin from January until sometime in March. It provided a winter isolation diversion. Then Robbie quit coming for his worms. Migrating robins were back from the south. There were rival males and o, so attractive females. We had bonded with Robbie and Gary would whistle at random robins hoping we’d see our winter friend again.

Yesterday it happened. This robin sat in Robbie’s favourite places. He cocked his head to listen to the whistles, chirpy sounds, and greetings. (I cannot whistle.) He stayed long enough for me to get his picture on the eaves. He flew off when our neighbour arrived home. But later we saw him peering at us through the front room window, just like he had this winter. A great visit with Robbie.

And here’s Robbie (this winter.) Another camera glitch and no image on my card 😦

Friends go for coffee every day. That doesn’t sound safe but it is because the couple stay in their vehicle, visit with one another, and people watch in the parking lot. The only improvement could be binoculars to zoom in on the activity. It’s an outing with physical distancing and is a great mental health strategy.

Yesterday we drove down the highway and stopped in a town about halfway to Edmonton. The Troll Park looked like a perfect place to have a visit. The kids and the grandkids could drive an hour and so could we. Physical distancing, of course. I took pictures and sent them off with the suggestion of a meet-up. There was a quick reply, “Maaaybe.”

“We’d rather visit you than your tombstone.”

So…a visit is out for the time being. The idea of lawn chairs and our own food and a face-to-face was fun to think about but reality slammed back. Now is not the time to get together. I can wait and although I miss my family, I’d rather not have them gathering at my tombstone. I can see the epitaph- “Why couldn’t she just wait?

Sheltering- A Little Excitement

As the self isolation becomes more of a drag even though I know it’s inconvenience and inconvenience only, I look for things to do. So does Gary. Since the choices open are few, we took another walk through the bush looking for antlers. If a deer, elk, or moose lost antlers this year, you couldn’t prove it by me.

The dogs have no problem with the same activity. They are as excited to get in the truck as they were initially. We did see a white tail deer in the distance on the way out and a couple of mule deer with their distinctive spring-spring gait and coming back. Maybe it’s the fresh air, it could be the wind, or perhaps it was tripping over fallen trees, stumbling in tangled shrubs, or dry twisted grass. Whatever the reason, we all had naps.

A Whitetail deer on her way…

About 2:00 a convoy of cars, trucks, and SUVs drove past, horns honking. The teachers and staff from the local schools had organized a “drive-by” visit for the students they were missing and who were missing them. Across the street, three or four kids sat on a step waving and enjoying the moment of connection.

A great idea. Many of the vehicles were decorated or bore signs identifying the school their drivers were from. The staccato of horns made a simple drive-by into an event. The Wainwright Fire and Rescue with lights flashing and sirens brought up the rear. Everyone, Gary, Scruffy, Taz, and me watched until they were gone.

Hand lettered sign bore messages of encouragement like, “We are not gone,” and “We’ll be back.” In an day when the time was dragging, a simple idea cheered everyone. Teachers, students, and town residents. Things will get back to a new normal. It is an inconvenience not to be able to run to the store, to go for coffee, or eat in a restaurant. It’s a little boring but not fatal, so I’ll stay home and if Gary suggests more walks in the bush, I’ll go.

Sheltering – Covid Creativity or…

The theory of gravity, the theory of optics, the invention of calculus. For a year and a half in quarantine during the Black Plague, Sir Issac Newton used his time wisely.

Shakespeare, penned King Lear, Macbeth, and Cleopatra. Check your Facebook feed. People are using this time of self isolation to create wonderful things.

The pressure is on. If you can’t be at work, if you can’t meet with friends, if you can’t ‘go shopping’, then why aren’t you coming up with some unique insight into quantum mechanics? Perhaps if physics isn’t your thing, you’d like to write pandemic poetry or branch out into music and develop the covid chorus.

Do you have bright idea??

People have taken to cleaning. If these are our final days do you really want to spend them cleaning?? Or organizing your wardrobe? Or putting that spare room in order? The stories of these activities only increase my own anxiety.

I do have a novel, written a couple of years ago that is partly re-written and edited. Is it the next Great Canadian Novel?? Chances are, no. Could I use this time to make it as good as it can be? Yes. Am I? No. I could clean. As Anne of PEI said (and I paraphrase) “It doesn’t leave much scope for imagination.” Could I work on a bit of art? (I have started painting watercolours). But I don’t.

I’m trying to break the habit of trolling in social media to see if the pandemic is breaking or if we are all facing the end of the world. That leaves me in a peculiar state of lethargy. Sitting here, imagining all the things I could accomplish, yet not motivated to move.

Newton and Shakespeare were geniuses, people. Cut yourself some slack. These are extraordinary times but it doesn’t mean you have to accomplish something phenomenal. If the laundry piles up a bit, if the floor gets a little sticky, if the rug could use a vacuum, don’t worry. It’ll wait for you. If you, too, have the great Canadian novel waiting for an edit. Relax. When the time is right, you’ll get to it. Not everyone is going to come out of the pandemic with works of great creativity. And that’s okay. Stay safe.