My most recent day working from my downtown offfice was Friday, March 13. Yes, Friday the 13th. I had heard the news about illness over the past couple of months, but I had other things on my mind. I was busy with work and I was taking a class with a project deadline looming. At the same time, I was volunteering as a social media coordinator for a community theatre production.
After the community theatre opening/closing night on March 13, everything changed quickly. Communications to patrons were re-written and quickly sent. Work and classes moved online. There was a quick learning curve for new online platforms and a rush to set up and learn new technology.
Initially I was somewhat relieved. Local public health officials had been saying that our overcrowded public transit system was a low-risk environment. On my second last day riding the subways, a person who sat next to me started sneezing. No tissues or elbows where used to stem the spray. On the way home on my final day, three people near my seat were coughing. Physical distancing was impossible. I did not want to get sick or to bring home an illness.
Thinking things would sort themselves out soon, I turned my free time into projects of distraction: baking, painting with acrylics, planting seeds for garden plants. Calendar plans were wiped out for a week, then for months and in some cases, for seasons. Over time, we heard the news of more closures and of the losses suffered by friends and others. Then it snowed.
The snow melted quickly. More may come but the spring flowers have appeared. Trilliums, the official flowers of Ontario, bloom in woodlands.
Better weather is forecast. In Ontario, garden centres and nurseries are among the first businesses allowed to reopen, first with curbside pick-up and then in person with physical distancing. News arrives of the garden work going on in public parks. Day use of Provincial Parks will resume in a few days.
The landscapers come to move the overgrown lawns. I hear news of garden centres closing online sales so that they can prepare to reopen in Nova Scotia. This a sign of hope in an area that has seen too many tragedies in recent days. Though many are still worried about going out, gardeners in the UK share news of local garden centre re-openings.
I turn to the geranium cuttings rooting in pots and the tomatoes seedlings planted in March. They have rooted and grown during the closure. Soon, I will harden them off by putting them outside for a few hours at a time. Life will be different for them. After this period of transition, they will be ready for the changed conditions out in the sun and rain. If the weather turns cold again, I will bring them back in for a time. I want to protect them, but I know eventually they will need to be outdoors to reach their full potential.
Things will be different. We will need to harden off and to gradually adapt to new conditions. If the conditions are not right, we may need to come back inside. Although, life is changing, I know I won’t be indoors forever. I will continue to grow and to manage the best I can in the interim, buoyed up by the flowers and the other signs of hope that I find. When the conditions are right and the sun shines stronger, we will bloom again.
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
Sincere thanks to Stephen Dow and Janine Elliott for images of new hope in challenging times.