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A world reimagined

When the lockdown came, we hunkered down. It was surreal, but we thought at first it would be over by summer. “This is just a bump in the road”, we said. Another time to

I baked more. We did virtual happy hour with friends and relatives we mostly hadn’t talked to in a while. I was perfectly prepared for my best garden. We survived, and I even wondered if humankind might improve from this experience.

My sourdough skills improved greatly, and I kept my workouts steady to ensure I would keep my form as the bread kept its form.

Hubby and I found that life hadn’t changed much for our personal time. Almost all of our friends and family live out of town so not seeing them was not unusual. We spent time together every day before the pandemic so we were good at that too. There was just no work, no way to share our passion for food other than leaving the odd care package on a neighbour’s doorstep, or sharing baked goods with the garden workers in the neighbouring fields.

Then we reached Phase 2. Summer was approaching and bookings for campgrounds opened up so that became our focus, in between tending the garden. A month later, in June, we were at Phase 3. In our region there hadn’t been any real cause for alarm, other than the shortage of toilet paper, pasta and flour.

Line-ups outside stores are still common. The one at Costco the first time we went took 50 minutes to get through.

The whole summer has gone by now. We camped 4 times. Despite Mother Nature reminding us all was not as before with excessive bugs, wind, rain and/or smoke (from fires thousands of miles away), we had fun. Our family philosophy of making the most of the moment played out well.

We spent lots of time enjoying the great outdoors.

But – and it’s a big but – the act of sharing food has changed. We cannot prepare our sumptuous BBQ buffets for events anymore – everyone touching the same utensils is too dangerous. Passing appetizers in a group is also not allowed, as it puts people and shared food in close proximity without barriers.

As we move indoors and the virus begins to spread faster again, social gatherings become a risky business. It’s nice to see people’s faces over Zoom, but seeing food and drink and not being able to share the sensory experience the same way is just plain old depressing.

My love for food was born out of learning what joy it brings to people when the come together for a meal. Now that our health officials are discouraging this practice, what do I do?

As I start to tidy the gardens for winter and harvest all our bounty, there is a new kind of melancholy in my soul. I always mourned the end of the growing season but this year my heart breaks as I consider the possibility that this lack of sharing could be the “new normal” people are talking about.

In the meantime, I shall keep preserving in preparation for a time when we can break bread safely together again.

I wish my pantry was big enough to fit jars like this; I will content myself with the flavours we have and share as much as I can.

No passengers on Spaceship Earth, only crew

This quote from Marshall McLuhan struck a chord with me. Here we are on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and so much of the planet is in pause mode. Is this Mother Earth taking roll call, waiting to see if we will show up for duty?

earth from space

I know many people have posted pictures and comments of how quiet it is, with the sounds of birds chirping replacing traffic noise. The air has become clearer over the cities, and animals have ventured back into spaces they had left behind. Are we being shown the web of life amidst this pause, like a public service announcement before the feature film?

I just can’t get over the fact that the irony of all these components piles up, day after day.

  • In a season known in many cultures for contemplating sacrifice and then celebrating at large, we are forced to spend the time apart from one another and truly reflect on our world and our deeds.
  • In a world full of technology, we can connect virtually but our daily routines revert to basic skills. Who knew so many people wanted to bake and garden and sew?
  • After years of being too busy to have time to look up from our screens, people are finding creative ways to recognize those who deserve praise and help others who cannot help themselves.

I for one am hopeful. I believe humankind has a great capacity to learn, and I take heart knowing that young people most of all are often the ones who learn fastest and are keen to change. Young minds can see a bigger picture with fewer encumbrances; I think it might be due to their general lack of prejudice and better imagination.

It is said we are borrowing the world from our children. Perhaps the best thing we can do is take good care of it until they need it for their children. Is there a bigger – or more important – picture than that?

Dr Seuss Lorax someone has to care

“It’s the end of the world as we know it… and I feel fine”

Road Runner the end

That R.E.M. song lyric keeps playing through my head. I heard it on the radio during a comedy show doing its best to make light of the current state of world affairs. It sums up nicely the surreal nature of world affairs at the moment.

I remember the song coming out in the 80’s, and back then a pandemic wasn’t even a topic for a sci-fi movie. (It wasn’t until the 90’s that we saw Stephen King’s “The Stand” and “12 Monkeys” using diseases as the villains in apocalyptic films.) Now of course, end-of-the-world scenarios have been played out with numerous plot-lines, and a sense of doom is much more pervasive in pop culture. That doesn’t make me feel any better, though.

toilet paper hoarding solutionWhat does make me feel better is remembering to laugh amidst the absurdity of this new reality. Watching the silly people fill their shopping carts with toilet paper, Hubby and I calmly proceeded through the store stocking up on perishables. Being people who cook real food on a regular basis, we have a running stock of canned food, pasta, baking supplies.

I am happy I began a new sourdough starter (great series of videos through Northwest Sourdough if you’re interested). We also have our Tower Garden which allows us to  have fresh herbs and lettuce indoors even in winter. If we won’t be working in the next short while then I might as well be busy cooking!

support localMy heart goes out to all my friends in the hospitality biz right now. People are scared  to go out at all, and many health officials have said they should avoid any contact except with people they know. Dining out is way down the list of reasons to disregard the advice, and staying in hotels is even scarier for most.

I’ll do my small part here and say please do your best to support your local businesses.  Corporate chains have a much larger capacity to weather any kind of business storm, and this one is a doozy. Your neighbourhood bakery, butcher, greengrocer, coffee shop and even restaurant need your help to stay afloat.

If you aren’t comfortable going out or can’t, consider buying gift certificates to local places. They won’t expire, so you can use them sooner or later. If you can get out, then do. Follow necessary precautions and don’t panic. Remember these are your neighbours, the businesses you trust to help you live well. They will be doing their best to maintain that relationship, and they are hoping you will, too.

kindness to do listOnce you’re back home, relax. Catch up on those things you’ve been meaning to do but forgot with all the hustle and bustle of regular life. Board games with the kids, reading a book, creating that photo album, contacting a far-away friend… there are all kinds of activities on that “never got ’round to it” list we all have. Not to mention all those recipes you have bookmarked?

Oh, and don’t forget the humour. The Sirius comedy channel, YouTube videos, a funny movie on your streaming service… or even a funny book. I humbly offer a few of my favourites below.

the muppets group pic

  • Stewart Maclean’s Vinyl Cafe, a classic CBC radio show
  • Ellen’s “Relatable” comedy tour, on Netflix
  • for something kid-friendly (although I still love them) – any of the Muppet movies or episodes of “The Muppet Show”
  • if you want a funny read, try a classic and read something from Erma Bombeck 
  • for those not minding a bit of naughty British humour, Ricky Gervais’ bit on the funniest leaflet ever made


Whichever way you manage to spend your days, remember there are plenty of quotes to keep us going:

“Just keep swimming.” – Dory, Finding Nemo

“There’s no place like home.” – Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz

“It will be alright in the end so if it is not alright, then it is not the end.” – Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

And for us foodies:

“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” – Peter Clemenza, The Godfather

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