Almost anyone you talk to – no matter where in the world – will similarly report first having to endure the inconvenience of the pandemic around March 10th, 2020. That was when we received a communication in Florida that our private medical insurers intended to cancel our 6-month policy in ten days. This was accompanied by the Canadian government’s alert that international travellers should return home within the same time. Though with marked reluctance we dutifully drove back to our residential digs in Canada. We sequestered ourselves as required for 2 weeks. Since then we have practiced social distancing when cycling, grocery shopping or filling the car with gas.
Health issues clearly dominate the current jargon. We’ve graduated to the point where protective masks – a package of which we lately bought at our pharmacy – have become the standard by which to judge communal civility. There are conflicting opinions from physicians regarding the usefulness of masks. What however lingers is the indisputable social necessity. While I have a mask stored in a compartment of my vehicle, I have yet to use it. I expect the public influence will overtake me shortly and I will then lapse into that indignity Donald J. Trump has so far successfully eluded.
This brings me to a point of reflection. Considering the sparsity of social involvement there isn’t much to report. It was for example only two days ago that I first saw my sister and her husband in person – as opposed to using FaceTime or Zoom. Even then we maintained extraordinary social distancing – including I might add the prohibition to use their facilities during our visit (a restriction I found rather abrasive and questionable).
The headspring of our limited social convention is cycling. We may encounter people upon leaving the property (usually residents engaged in gardening) or while on the bike path (cyclists, walkers and runners). The path which we prefer (the one from the Town Hall towards the Village of Blakeney) is skirted by several popular residential areas. I have yet to determine when are the busiest times for people to make their outings but it is already evident that their habits are repetitive. Yesterday I chatted with one of the Town’s leading landlords and his spouse. The day before it was a confab with a former client. Other occasions have included a long-time surveyor, a B&B owner and his young son, an engraver, a complete stranger (who had lost one of her earrings on the path) and a former hospital worker who once meticulously cleaned the mechanics of my clocks after our house furnace backed up and diffused imperceptible black soot everywhere.
We have had no one visit us in the apartment. Deliveries are conducted at the front door of the building at arm’s length. The occasional encounters with other residents are confined to the hallways, garage or outside on the grounds. Nothing has transpired for the past month regarding manis, pedis, haircuts, teeth cleaning, eye or ear exams, dental or medical needs unless you include a phone conversation with my GP. Whatever meetings were scheduled with professionals have been cancelled.
There has been some hopeful discussion of an early-summer foregathering with my erstwhile physician at his country seat on the deck overlooking the pool in the meadow but as yet without commitment. That’s the problem. No one knows when this mandatory isolation will end. Countries are presently assessing the effect of cautious re-openings but the initial statistics are not favourable. To its embarrassment and alarm the USA has the highest rate of deaths of any country in the world. If you listen to the so-called “liberal” media (CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, NPR and BBC) the attempt to reinvigorate the economy will not go as planned if people react too quickly. There is compelling evidence out of Brazil that urgency has caused exponential death.
Historically the golf club is a regular haunt. It is closed. I have contented myself meanwhile with stops in the Village of Appleton overlooking the waterfalls.
The golf club is but one of several places we formerly frequented for a casual meal. Our treasured Vietnamese soup restaurant in Bells Corners is closed as well. The Ivy Lea Club may have opened its ice cream parlour but we suspect the main kitchen and dining room are yet in darkness.
As a result of this economic and social confinement my diary of activity is blandly limited to breakfast, cycling, getting the car washed, reading, writing, photography, music, dinner and bed. I’ve had some collateral commotion surrounding the purchase of a new vehicle – including driving it between here, the County of Renfrew and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Otherwise I regret that I have done nothing approaching enchantment.
Meanwhile in the background friends silently continue to address their particular volleys of challenges and provocations. In an atmosphere of isolation such as this the intelligence shared with others is lean. Understandably those who suffer medical issues are wont to talk of them expansively. Likewise there are I am certain those who have financial concerns arising from the economic downturn apart from the decline of the stock market. It requires but a swift passage through the austere parking lots of malls or shopping centres to adjudge the demolition inflicted by the pandemic.
We may not have the legitimacy to presume that things will get better but currently that is the common prediction. Some prefer to ornament the stoniness by suggesting it will promote improvements. Certainly some truth lies in the manner of doing business. Already many businesses have switched to on-line communication as their primary tool. Our own lawyer for example has closed her office though she continues to invite telephone and on-line activity. It is not a moment in history I would have enjoyed as a young businessman. For one thing – and this is unquestionably the least significant – there were so many ingredients of my law practice which insinuated the office, its furnishings and accessories, paintings, maps and furnishings. Laughably it would now seem I afforded considerable attachment to the office itself quite apart from the professional opinions arising from within.