The Lockdown

It is a cloudy Wednesday in April.
And that means it’s grocery day!
The day I have proclaimed to be the one day of the week that I venture out into the unwashed masses to procure some sundry items for the pantry.
And it takes on a whole new meaning during the lockdown of Covid-19.
I make sure I go in the middle of the day, when there may be a chance of less people at the grocery store.
I am wrong.
I am forced to the back of a very long lineup of people hoping to get in, all being told to wait patiently, at a physical distancing measure of at least 6 feet apart.
Shopping buggy in hand, I am thankful that the weather at least is not minus 30 and blowing snow.
It is actually rather pleasant to be outside in the nippy air, watching the comings and goings of people, wondering if they have washed their hands.
I have my plastic gloves on. Not sure if they will keep germs and viruses at bay but I know for sure I will NOT be touching my face when I am wearing them.
Many people are wearing masks.
Although not proven to prevent the virus from getting IN to a person, it can help prevent germs from getting OUT and onto others. Which is a very nice idea.
The wait is not long, and before I know it, I am allowed into the grocery store, following the directional arrows so as to not cross paths with anyone coming the other direction.
Keeping at least 6 feet from people in those narrow aisles is a bit of a trick.
Everyone is very polite and patient and accommodating and we all look the other way and hold our breaths if forced to pass in the narrow produce aisles.
It is all so very civilized.
The bakery area is busy, but we all manage to gracefully navigate our grocery buggys around each other, often pausing to pleasantly say, “I’m going that way”, before veering to the right or left.
The meat section is busy too. At least there is meat today. It wasn’t too long ago, just a few weeks if I remember correctly, when the meat department was wiped out. People were in hoarding mode, and the empty shelves were apocalyptic.
But today, the shelves are mostly plentiful.
There are signs which politely ask customers to only take 1 or 2 of an item, so everyone has enough.
There are even some paper products today, toilet paper, Kleenes and paper towels. There was none of those last week.
The frozen food section is looking fuller today. Last week it was very bare. Like Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, as my mum used to say.
There is another lineup to check out. With signs asking everyone to make sure they are physically distanced by 6.5 feet.
I wonder if my gloves now touching my wallet will be a factor.
And the fact that the fellow before me was speaking very close to the plastic shield separating him and the checkout lady. Do they wipe down the customer side of the plastic shields? Not while I was there. I made sure I kept my distance.
The checkout lady is wearing gloves too, and is wiping down the rubber belt and the payment machine.
She packs the groceries in endless plastic bags, which are now free, and I guess a lot cleaner than the reusable ones we would normally bring in. I guess the whole cutting down on plastics thing is now out the window, in favour of cutting down on the virus spread.
I hastily beat my retreat from the grocery store, thankful no one appeared to be really sick, but knowing anyone and everyone could be shedding unknowingly.
I hope my antibodies are up for it, and look forward to washing my hands thoroughly when I get home.
In the new reality of lockdown, home is where the safety net supposedly is.
My daily walks when the weather is nice, which is usually every day thankfully this time of year, are my salvation.
My daily visits to administer medicine to my horse at a nearby barn is also a salvation, where physical distancing is being stressed between people there.
I find myself getting up in the morning slightly later than my usual wont, around 8 these days. I normally like to be up at 7.
My routine is the same; feed and water the cats, have my coffee, do some writing or reading, do some work in my office which thankfully has a nice big window which I can look out of at all the people walking by with their dogs.
I always have my shower, get dressed, albeit into what I call “around the house” clothing these days, namely yoga pants and a hoodie.
The days do go by fairly quickly, and before I know it, it is 6 o’clock and time to watch the Toronto news to see what the latest developments in this Covid-19 will be.
Keeping in touch with elderly parents, with either a phone call or email several times per week, and also an out-of-work brother in B.C. who may or may not have the virus.
Hubby’s profession is considered essential, so he is into work every day.
Thankfully my profession is also considered essential, although altered significantly in this new reality.
No one can answer where and when and how will it all end?
Emergency measures in Ontario have now been extended until May 12, 2020.
That means that restaurants must stay closed, physical distancing must continue, no haircuts, no gatherings of more than 5 people, no sitting on a park bench or else get a ticket. Yes, a ticket.
This year of all years, when Spring is the time to get the garden started, with all its glorious signs of hope and colour, and we need that now more than ever, the greenhouses that help us with all that are shuttered indefinitely.
Will physical distancing become the new norm? I hope for sure that cleanliness and washing our hands all the time will be imbedded into our unconsciousness.
Thank goodness for wifi, streaming services, cable packages that allow access to some great shows and movies and even sports to get caught up on, a bookshelf full of reading material that I have always wanted to get caught up on, the chance to catch up on emails.
Thank goodness too for warming temperatures, longer days, increasing sunshine, the greening of grasses, the budding of trees and plants, the chirping of birds, especially the robins, reminding us that better days are ahead.
These are all wonderful things to be grateful for now, when we are sequestered into isolation without even the opportunity to go for a nice meal somewhere.
Oh sure, it can be delivered, but somehow it’s not quite the same.
I thought we may come out of this with another baby boom.
But it seems that more divorces and even domestic abuses are prevailing.
Are we like rats in a cage?
Yes, we are meant to be social creatures, and this prolonged isolation with our families will either make or break us.
I choose make us.
I choose to not let a tiny virus, deadly and relentless though it may be, get the better of us.
I choose hope, that our antibodies will defeat the virus, and we will become stronger as humans because of it.
Yes, it has taken many, and will continue to take many, and I have no words for the devastation that is bringing to families.
But we must prevail.
We must keep calm and carry on.
We must accept this global humbling of mankind and take it as a lesson of sorts.
A message that we are not the almighty that we thought we were.
It is causing change and we must accept that change and adapt to that change and not let it defeat us.
The new precautions that will undoubtedly be in place at the end of the tunnel we must look to as good things.
A cautionary tale, at its’ best.


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