A Good Home

Close Connections in a Crisis

My sister is making masks for a local hospital, the same hospital where my 5-month old  granddaughter will get her standard vaccination against certain diseases in just a few weeks.

My sister’s voluntary mask-making reminds me of women in this area in earlier decades — and in all of Canada, actually — women who knitted thousands of socks for our soldiers in Europe during the second world war.

Because — make no mistake — we are fighting a war, and one that’s getting closer each day to a community near you and me. We are bracing ourselves for an enemy that we cannot see, cannot hear.  And for the first time, it truly is a world war — every country is affected.

We can’t opt out or remain neutral. It finds us wherever we are.

Italy, my ‘second home’ when I worked in television, has been among the worst countries affected. Two days ago, I turned on the radio, heard an Italian-based senior journalist I know, and learned that 71 doctors there have died from COVID-19 so far.

It shook me up, and I thought about the many friends I made in that country: the co-workers in television; the shopkeepers I came to know and like.

Suddenly, my connections with far-flung family and close friends seem more urgent, the need to renew or nurture them more significant. I dare not say it, I barely can think it, but I don’t know how many of us will survive this terrible plague.  I want to be in touch.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden - chairs and umbrellas CU

Closer to my actual home, I buy pots of flowers every spring and summer from a local nursery. Owned by an elderly man of European origin, the nursery depends almost entirely on the annual migration of seasonal workers from the Caribbean.

I see them talking with the owner, whom they call “Papa”, and I sometimes stop to eavesdrop on the banter between them.  He seems as dedicated to them as they do to him.

But none of that affected me much, except as a charming detail.  Until now.  That man is too old to manage his nursery on his own; he needs his workers and they need the income. Whole families in Caribbean countries – including Jamaica, my country of birth — depend on their earnings at places like these in Canada.

Blog Photo - Garden August 2018 - late blooms1

Less important perhaps, I — and my neighbours and friends — won’t be buying these flowers. Won’t be strolling through the long aisles bordered by containers of violets, geranium, lobelia and other flowers spilling over their sides and making us smile. For gardeners, meandering through the enormous greenhouse and talking with the owner and  friendly staff  as we make our choices has been a rite of spring in these parts.

Even closer to home, my neighbour is a firefighter. He got called in last week to sub for colleagues at another fire station when someone got exposed to COVID-19. 

“Do you worry about your own safety?” I ask.

He tells me he feels safe in the protective gear firefighters wear. But I still pray for him every night. He and his wife and two young children are cherished friends.

Another neighbour and his wife live in Mexico in winter.  When Canada gave the ‘snowbirds’ 2 weeks to come home, they caught one of the first flights and went into quarantine for 14 days. Days ago, we were overjoyed to see them in their garden and waved what felt like a long-distance ‘welcome home’.

Yet another neighbour, a lawyer, is normally busy at this time of year with real estate deals. But houses aren’t selling much these days — who wants to walk through a stranger’s house, not knowing what germs they may touch? Not knowing if they will even have a paycheque next week?

Fear of the virus affects my husband’s business too, one which depends on face-to-face interactions. He won’t lay off his staff, I know. It means we have to watch our family budget. Every dollar counts.

Canadians like our families want to support our local businesses – the supermarket, the nursery, the bakery, the bookstore. We want local people to have jobs. But more and more, we are staying home for fear of contracting the deadly virus and are instead ordering online from big business. It’s not our preference, of course.

We’re not building bomb shelters — unless you count all the things we are not doing, all the ways in which we are protecting ourselves in order to stay safe. But like people living in times of war, we are also cherishing existing connections and perhaps making a few new ones.

This week, we started a local Facebook group for our street. We had planned to share stories about our countryside neighbourhood and our good fortune to live here in the bosom of nature.  So far, though, the posts getting the most response are the ones sharing tips about how to get through this frightening time. Perhaps equally significant: neighbours who’ve rarely talked to each other are communicating.

Some of you know my philosophy: that bad stuff often paves the way for good things to happen in response. I hope this is what will happen. I hope the better angel within each of us will prevail, that we’ll be able to preserve the best of our way of life, while letting go of the worst of our human behaviours.  And I hope my loved ones and I  will be around to see it happen.

Stay safe, my friends. Stay well.



27 thoughts on “Close Connections in a Crisis”

  1. Thanks for caring and sharing Cynthia. I too feel the need to connect, but also the need to shelter more, especially since I’m working out in the thick of this challenge. And like you, I believe/ hope/ pray that good comes from this challenge. Take care.

  2. Wonderful post Cynthia! I want only to read about what the good people are doing, how they go about making their own lives as healthy as possible and how they share what they can within their community and interest groups. We hear about all the dreadful things going on – but there is so much good that we don’t hear about. I often think if the media would just choose to change their focus, how disempowering that would be for the selfish and greedy and mean spirited and how empowering for the untold good people of the world – and how much the world might change as a result!

    1. Yes, it would be good to disempower selfish, greedy, and mean-spirited people by not dignifying their actions with attention. Unfortunately, they prey on the vulnerable who need to be informed so that they can guard themselves against being taken advantage of or worse.

  3. Wonderful when communities and people pull together in a Crisis… And I too hope that a new brighter community will emerge after this testing time for all of us…
    Take care Cynthia…
    Love and Blessings your way.. ❤

  4. I so agree with all the other comments. Your eloquent words perfectly capture what is going on right now. I, too, was thinking of how in past wars various things were made for those on the front line. I hope you are right that this horrible time will bring about changes for the good. As far as I’m concerned, those changes are long past due.

    1. It will take a groundswell of people, Laurie. Yesterday on Twitter, I saw alleged Christians, proud Trump supporters, saying vile, hateful things. Either they are bots impersonating Christian folk or people who don’t know what Christ stood for.

  5. So much of what you write is the same here. All around businesses are shut, people laid off and no one knows for how long. But the community spirit is strong and people help where they can. The human spirit is resilient, but I know many families will suffer. Here is to the light of hope. Keep safe and well.

  6. Sometimes things hit us that we hadn’t thought of before – on the news the other day they were talking about all the plants that will die because people would normally be buying them for their gardens, which made me think what a terrible waste that would be. It does make you wonder what will be left when this is over – how many businesses will be able to recover from it on high streets that are already struggling.

  7. Hope you and your family are still staying well, Cynthia! I think the UK has had more of a delivery based economy than much of North America for a while (many people here got their groceries delivered anyway well before any of this happened), and it seems like a lot of local businesses are doing deliveries now, which is great (though not the local gelato shop, unfortunately)! I’d rather support the little guys any day if I can! I do feel bad for the delivery people though.

  8. Hello Cynthia. I am hoping this finds you and your family happy and healthy. We’ve been on lockdown since March 18th at our home and needless to say being home with 3 little children (11 months, 2, and 4 years old) has consumed my every second. I still find time to post on our facebook page as they are quick posts but taking time to read blogs has fallen to the wayside. By the time I tuck them in at night, catch up on my work as I’m working from home and finish my night barn chores, I am exhausted. Through it all I am grateful I am able to offer these children a stable life and my children and Rob are all healthy. There are down days especially for Chase as she now realizes she will not have the senior graduation and prom she’s dreamed about for the past 4 high school years and her 18th birthday will be a small celebration in a few weeks. However, we have what we need and are facing this enemy through our Faith. Looking forward to catching up on your blog and seeing your beautiful gardens soon! Tina

    1. Oh, Tina! Your hands are full! and poor Chase! so many dreams have to be deferred or have fallen by the wayside. That one is hurtful. Please give her a hug for me. It is great to hear from you. My blog record is quite spotty too.

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