When I wrote my first of what turned into 18 pieces entitled “Keeping despair at bay,” we were well into the gloominess of November. As I write today, it is equally gloomy: after some warm and sunny days, it is cold, grey, wet and windy. The rain that is falling is forecast to turn to snow. To make matters worse, the Environment Canada website, which my partner checks first thing every morning, last thing every night and several times in between, is changing its radar map function, so he can’t even track the weather as it moves into our area.
Nonetheless, I have decided it is time to leave despair behind, at least for the next few months, in favour of hope: hoping for it, looking for it and, perhaps, finding it.
I didn’t find a lot of colour during my solo walk at Lemoine Point earlier this week. The sky was grey, the trees were bare and there was no snow left on the ground to brighten things up. Even the lake, with the winter’s ice pushed up against the shore, lacked any sparkle. I ran into a rafter of wild turkeys, and the bright blue of the male’s face was the most colour I saw in the hour or so I was in the park.
Nonetheless, it was a great walk: I was there early enough that there were few other walkers, no children, and only one dog. By the time I had completed my circle, I had logged just over four kilometres and my spirit was restored enough to carry me through the rest of my day.
There’s more colour in my neighbourhood every time I go for a walk. This week, dwarf irises and crocuses started showing their faces. A few days ago, I came upon a couple of egg trees, replacing the long-melted snowpeople of the winter. Even though we have to bring it in at night to protect the plants against the cold, we have filled our urn with daffodils, pansies and tulips.
My partner and I found sumptuous looking lettuces and tomatoes grown by Sun Harvest Greenhouses just north of the city, which we have been enjoying through the week.
Also offered by Sun Harvest is an online moss art workshop, so I signed up, along with my daughter and her partner. I am cautiously hopeful that I might be able to create something pretty.
Bad news, good news
Farm Boy has been my mainstay for groceries since the pandemic began. The produce is fresh and plentiful. There is a good selection of meats and cheeses. It carries only food, which is a relief compared to many of the large grocery store chains where you can get lost amongst the clothing, dishes, household supplies, toiletries and vitamins on offer. The staff are friendly and helpful.
Perhaps best of all, for most of the past year, Farm Boy has opened at 7 a.m. I’m an early riser, and have been delighted to be able to get my weekly grocery shopping out of the way before 8 o’clock.
There’s something intoxicating about being the first shopper to set foot into the store, as I have been more than a few times. Seldom is there more than a handful of other shoppers; often there are only one or two. I’ve gotten to know the regular staff and, as I discovered when I headed to the store for 7 am yesterday, they have gotten to know me.
The ever-present greeter/number counter welcomed me with her usual masked smile, only to tell me that the store had returned to 8 a.m. openings but, out of concern for the regular early shoppers, was opening the doors at 7 for a couple more days. A few minutes later, the store manager found me considering whether to buy some very green fair trade bananas or some that were riper but unfairly traded (I opted for green fair trades, even though that means I can’t make a smoothie for a few days) and shared the same news, noting that he knew I was a regular early morning customer and hoped this wouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience for me.
There was good news as well as bad: the cashier who rings in my purchases every week told me that the staff are now allowed to pack groceries for those of us who bring our own bags. I hate this chore, so was delighted, and my groceries were packed better than they have been for many months.
At midnight, we are back to a provincial lockdown, although with rules just enough different from the last time to ensure mass confusion. Coming into effect on the second day of a four-day weekend, it is difficult to imagine there won’t be a raft of infractions, big and small.
It’s hard not to be discouraged, but, I think there is room for hope.
My partner and I went to two movies at our independent movie theatre this week and were extremely cheered not to be sitting on our couch watching TV.
We are moving into warmer weather and, with more of us vaccinated every week, some return to socializing will be possible, at least for the next several months.
And, the garlic is up in our garden. Need I say more?