As many of you may know, my husband and I began the process of planning a move from Vancouver to Halifax. This started before the coronavirus hit. And even in our latest planning, the disease had not become a pandemic yet and Canada was still considered low risk. As we all know, things changed very quickly.
Exactly a week ago I arrived at the Halifax airport, after having left Vancouver on March 12th. Between the time I left and got here, I visited family in Chicago. When I planned the trip, things weren’t quite so dire as they became, even as I left Vancouver. The spread of the disease has not been a day-by-day or a week-by-week change, but an hour-by-hour change that has come unexpectedly.
It was my time in Chicago, the day after the pandemic was announced, that things personally got very scary–and despite the good time I had with my family–I realized travel was not a great idea at this time, especially travel abroad. All in all, I was at five different airports during my trip: Vancouver, Toronto, Chicago, Montreal, and Halifax. It was in Chicago that we saw unreal lines at grocery stores, and walked out nearly as soon as we walked in. Since then, I have not been into a store like that, preferring to order groceries online and do a pick up service where you don’t have any contact with anyone; they just put stuff into your trunk.
I’m happy to say that I made it to the Halifax area and I’m in the new house. However, my husband is still four thousand kilometres away and had planned to stay in Vancouver until mid-April to clean out the old house. But now he is trying to get out here as soon as next weekend due to flights being drastically reduced across Canada. We dread the thought that we would be stuck on different coasts for any length of time.
I feel safe where I’m at, but have to do a two-week self-isolation period after having travelled abroad. This is fine by me and seems to be a lifestyle that most of us will need to continue in the future for who knows how many months. The house has no furniture or anything in it, except for a few things the previous owners left behind, so I’ve been having to order deliveries of household items and furniture. But some things haven’t arrived yet, like the big things that would be nice to have right now: a real bed to sleep on, someone to fix the chair I’ve been trying to put together, internet service (which cannot be done until April 5th after I’m off isolation), and about 15 boxes of stuff that my husband has shipped out to me, including some clothes and pictures and books and documents and my computer.
It is also colder in Nova Scotia than what I’m used to. The wind is loud and howls around the house constantly, but I love it. It reminds me so much of being on the Atlantic coast in Ireland. To get out I’ve just been going to the back yard, which is huge and has all kinds of interesting plants, some of which I haven’t identified yet. The grass is still brown, but the potential of what this will look like in the spring is something to look forward to. I have walked about the yard often as I’m self-isolating, realizing that half of the yard is an area of gardens. The blue jays back there are all over the place, perching in the apple trees. There are crows and seagulls as well. The previous owners were obsessed with roses, and they meticulously built the gardens in the back, which include three bird baths that have these oldstone statues of female figurines carrying things or just looking down with their heads bent. There’s one place where some hedges surround some roses that then surround a birdbath. At one point in time I thought maybe I would get rid of this kind of landscaped area, but I learned that the previous owners spent years building that space. However, there are so many roses in both front and back yard that I will surely reduce the number of them. The husband had recently died, and just out of respect I want to leave that circular garden alone. During this pandemic I feel very fortunate that I have these gardens and yard to use as a sanctuary, in a sense, and even just looking over them out the kitchen window gives me peace.
I’m also absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity and friendliness of people in Nova Scotia. I am on a texting basis with my neighbours, my realtor, and a woodworker nearby who has made a dining room table and is just waiting to deliver it after I’m done with isolation. Everyone I’ve met has been so friendly and has reached out to see if I need anything at all. The previous owners even dropped off a twin bed mattress, some pillows, blankets, sheets, and a coffee cup that served as a bowl for cereal until some of my own dishes came in. My mother-in-law also calls nearly every day, I’ve already gotten one of Aunt Linda’s famous handwritten letters in our new mailbox, and have gotten a call from my father-in-law.
I admit there have been some dark nights. I, like everyone, am worried about the world and my loved ones. Will I ever see some of them again? Did I contract the virus somewhere in my travels? I’m constantly trying to breathe deeply and check myself to see if I feel warm, and it is hard to sleep because I am alone here and I’m not sure if I’m carrying the virus or if I will wake up one night with it being hard to breathe. I have 7 more days to go in isolation.
But I’ve also been resourceful. With very few things here I’ve still managed to make a face mask, put furniture together, find old things in the shed that are useful for sitting on–even creating a makeshift desk for my laptop–order seeds to be delivered within the next couple weeks so that I can plant a garden in case food supply does become scarce, and so on.
I am keeping up with the news and saddened that in so many places greed has overtaken healthcare and many people are dying, and medical professionals are not getting the PPE or the equipment needed to treat people who need to be treated now. We do not, for the most part, have leaders who inspire confidence and trust, especially in the United States where the rest of my family is. The absolute hugeness of the virus has eclipsed most previous worries, except for equally large and larger things like climate change. I’m a believer that we have the capacity to continue to worry about more than one thing, to work for more than one thing, and to not see the world in black and white. We must remember that climate change is not stopping because of coronavirus, as is no other ecological problem. In fact, it seems that the coronavirus is most likely a result of human interference with natural environment and human growth that has gotten too close to wildlife that was not used to mixing with people.
Before leaving Vancouver I scheduled the next global ecofiction spotlight to appear on April 11th. That will be my talk with Aya de Leon, which I think readers will enjoy. I know that I loved talking with her. I also pre-added several songs to the song-of-the-week playlist because it is kind of hard to update things on the phone, especially now that I live in a more rural area and without the internet being hooked up yet, or any wi-fi, I am relying on some very slow signals in the country. And I did not get a chance to update the affiliates section, or the new Nova Scotia wildlife section, so I will do that sometime in April. I appreciate everyone’s patience as I await real internet, my regular computer, and so on.
Finally, yes this is a very dark time. I think that people everywhere must unite in our preservation, which means that we have to, in the very least, be kind to one another. But we also must listen to science rather than post-truth leaders who don’t know anything about the factual reality of the situation we’re in. That means we have to stay in as much as possible, wash our hands a lot, not gather with people, be resourceful when it comes to protecting ourselves and others around us, and be able to distinguish fact from rumour. Further, we have to support those who are on the front lines basically risking their lives to make sure that we get health services, food, and other essential things in life.
The featured image is licensed by Can Stock.