“So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” – T.S. Eliot
On a night of rain and whiskey, the raindrops and burn keep worry away during watershed days after the pandemic announcement that has stilled the world. We’ve all retreated to our homes and apartments to do our part in slowing down the spread of a deadly virus gone rogue. Staying in is definitely the new black…
My heart is warmed by more than the odd glass of creamy Irish whiskey, there is the nightly ritual (at 7pm) when our West End neighbourhood erupts into clapping, pot banging and cheers of support for our first responders and healthcare workers. Before that magical hour that I gladly participate in, the news is turned off and a CD put on as we dance and sing through our collection.
Days are spent tackling projects put off over the years as work hours and travel filled our lives – each morning is devoted to the task at hand while afternoons are set aside for daily walks and rare trips to our local grocery store.
In order to practice safe social distancing, I find myself walking quieter streets and lanes, counting every drifting cherry blossom, fragrant hyacinth and sunny daffodil. Park walks often entail exploring pathways and trails once avoided, there are many of us out there doing the same (exercising and getting some fresh air), lonely paths aren’t so lonely anymore and sometimes there are smiles.
Spring never fails to push away the darkness of winter and now, it tempers the toothy edges of an invisible enemy forcing us to dive deep, as it strips away the other masks we all wear, revealing who we truly are. We’ve already witnessed violence in our back alleyway – there was the shocking sound of screaming, blood and two large men fighting, one even body-slamming the other. It shattered a quiet spring afternoon and reminded us of the precariousness of the world right now. Thankfully, many neighbours jumped in to help and the police as well as an ambulance arrived promptly.
At the other end of the spectrum, someone has carefully and artistically created emotional signposts of encouragement, “it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling”, “I hope something good happens to you today”, pinning them to park tree trunks and telephone poles – on my daily walks I’ve come across two of them and they’ve made me smile.
This pause, although worrisome, has changed our sense of time as work and school days go on hiatus – our linear world stretched into a delicious spaciousness. On this long weekend usually set aside for religious gatherings and ceremonies, we hiked into the park to find some of that new found space. In front of a lone mottled stump, we laid a blanket down upon mossy, bright green grass to let all that is spring wash over us (to watch bees lazily fly by and enjoy the sun’s warm rays).
We can hear the low rumble of distant traffic and the odd boat horn on Burrard Inlet, otherwise the silence in between is heavenly. A thermos of rooibos chai tea is waiting to be served as hummingbirds launch themselves straight up to the sky. After a small cup of tea or two, we begin to think about packing up for a walk through the oxygen-rich forest aiming for Beaver Lake, to find a bench there and finish our thermos. As I took my last sip of tea, an eagle flew low over the ground not far from our blanket, and do you know what?, for a moment this pause forced upon us felt almost normal.