Hope is buried more deeply some weeks than others. My morning walks over the past several days have been slow, and not just because of the weight of the humidity. Early in the week, I mulled over the largely rhetoric-filled platitudes spilling so easily from the mouths of politicians responding to the discovery of 215 Indigenous children’s bodies buried on the property of what was Canada’s largest residential school near Kamloops.
By Tuesday, my feet dragged even more: how could someone be so filled with hate by the age of 20 that he intentionally killed four members of a family for no reason other than that they were Muslims?
I’ve spent a lot of time during my walks this week wondering about the right way for me, as a pretty privileged white-skinned Canadian, to respond to these events.
Wednesday evening, along with many other Kingstonians, I attended a vigil to commemorate the Afzaal family, and I was struck by how often the word hope came up in the speeches. I took that to heart and, although I am no closer yet to knowing where I fit in the work we all need to do to end hate and violence, I decided that I, too, would look for spots where hope shone through the despair this week.
To market, to market
Kingston’s Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market pivoted quickly last March to reinvent itself in an online version. I happily bought local produce, meats, cheeses and the occasional bag of chocolate-covered ginger by placing my order online each Tuesday for a Sunday drive-by pick up.
Nonetheless, I was brimming with enthusiasm last Sunday when the market returned to the grass.
We had to mask and keep our distance, but it was worth it to be able to see the food producers I hadn’t seen since the summer of 2019. The lineup for local organic strawberries was long, as was the wait for fresh from the fryer churros: both well worth it.
I’ve planned my meals for next week based on what I expect to find when I return on Sunday, with an even larger shopping basket than I took last week.
Last weekend, a friend I had not seen since before the pandemic began, invited us and two other friends over for a backyard fire and visit. The fire was put on hold because of the weather, and we had to fend off an overly enthusiastic raccoon who seemed fearless in its persistence to join our gathering, but it was a lovely evening of catching up and talking about what lies ahead.
Perhaps the raccoon was enticed by the smell of the freshly made buttered popcorn we had picked up on the way over. Kingston’s independent cinema, the Screening Room, has, of course, been shuttered for much of the past year. It won’t be reopening until sometime in August, but last weekend staff set up a booth in front of the theatre and sold take-out popcorn, candy and drinks. It’s on again this weekend, so perhaps it will become a summer fixture for those wandering around downtown on weekend evenings.
My partner’s sister, who is in her mid-70s, lives alone. For most of her adult life, she has had a cat, but has been without one for a couple of years; company she has really missed over the past 15 months.
We decided to adopt a cat for her as a birthday gift — with her knowledge — so she and I have spent more time than I would like to admit looking at pictures of cats on the websites of humane societies and animal rescue organizations. After much consideration, she picked a very sweet looking kitty from the Gananoque Humane Society. Now that all the required paperwork has been completed – at times, we wondered if we were adopting a child, so rigorous were the hoops we had to jump through – Pancake is on hold awaiting our pick up.
Today, I will be through the doors as soon as the pet store near my house opens (hooray for Ontario reopens step one) to stock up on everything the kitty will need for her new life. Saturday morning, we will pick her up and drive to Toronto to deliver her to, as the humane society website says, her furrever home, where we know she will be loved while also providing her companionship to my partner’s sister.
Oh, those peonies!
Barbara Kingsolver had this to say about hope in her novel Animal Dreams:
“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance, but live right in it, under its roof.”
This week, my version of that has been the intoxicating scent of peonies that my partner cut from our front garden and placed on my desk, the spiderwort, weigela and poppies bringing colour to our gardens, and in my first reiki treatment since February.