Without exception everyone with whom I speak these days is going stir crazy! I am as well. The pandemic lockdown is a penetrating affliction. Some suffer the further indignity of having lately lost a loved one and are thus obliged to endure the disfavour alone. Our latest campaign for distraction is a puzzle. We naturally ordered it on-line. It comes from Québec and arrived promptly by UPS. It has proven to be my ruination – though His Lordship has seemingly conquered the unenviable task. I couldn’t handle it! After having devoted several hours over as many days to the challenge I literally found only one piece that connected to another! According to what is written on the box it came in there are 1,000 pieces. And to me they all look alike. I am so not into puzzles! I’m thinking I’ll have to invent an inbred disorder to explain the violation of my acuity. Something akin to dyslexia. As a result I have relapsed into what has now become highly predictable and repetitive behaviour.
It doesn’t help that I have contemporaneously reignited my addiction to strong, black coffee. So much for that annoying infuser I bought to go with the Twining’s loose tea! Coffee – quite aside from its diuretic consequence – stimulants countless anxieties and nervous twitches. It is hardly the proper prescription for confinement and immobility.
We have thankfully mollified the imprisonment – and expiated our guilt generally – by bicycling. Early this morning, about eight o’clock shortly after dawn, we pedalled approximately – well, exactly – 5.18 km. We’ve routinely cycled the same distance throughout the month of February. Until the middle of December – before the snow came – we averaged 10 km daily when we were able to access the Ottawa Valley Trail on the erstwhile railway line. This morning’s outing was confined to the adjacent residential streets which because of the cold air were dry with the exception of the occasional narrow envelopes of thin ice. The temperature today was around -16°C. It was tolerable except when heading into the wind. Then our gloved hands precipitously froze.
Throughout the remainder of the day I have read and written. I also had the pleasure today to listen to Eleanor Wachtel OC, Canadian writer and broadcaster. She is the host of the flagship literary show Writers & Company on CBC Radio One. The programme today centred upon VEEP creator Armando Iannucci speaking about the comic in the absurd from The Death of Stalin to The Personal History of David Copperfield. His insight into Dickens was illuminating.
The venue for this interview was my car. Following a brief detour to the car wash in Stittsville and Sobey’s (which is scheduled to close down mid-March and be replaced by Farm Boy and other smaller retail stores) I directed myself westward along the four-lane ribbon of highway from Ottawa to Renfrew County. It is an idyllic drive. The view quickly broadens to unobstructed surrounding fields and meandering tributaries of the Mississippi and the Madawaska Rivers into the Ottawa River. It succeeds like nothing else to evaporate my consternation.
Oh, and carrot cake from the Antrim Truck Stop in Arnprior!