Postcard #46, From home in locked-down Toronto

I don’t mind telling you this third wave lockdown has really got me down.

I can’t get anything done, and I can’t do nothing.

Being unable to do nothing is a WASP curse, or a baby boomers’ curse. Sort of like “may you live in interesting times”. May you be wired for action while the rest of the world shuts down.

I pace a lot. I get newsy emails from banks saying they are here for me. But no one in offices is where they ought to be. I just got a message from a large educational institution that read, “Hello, I have moved my home office three times in the past year and I can’t find your…”

I know, I know. She is trying as hard as she can to do her job from home with kids swarming her desk. Many, many people are worse off than we are. Worldwide, people are dying. These are catastrophic circumstances. We have space. We have a yard. We shouldn’t complain.

But complaining is something to do. Did I mention that Toronto is tied with Los Angeles for having the longest lockdown in North America? Long, long, 14 months long. And it’s allergy season. I struggle to have patience. Let me tell you how I spend my time.

I walk around the block and the next and next blocks. I do this starting out in a western direction some days, then try east, south and north the next days. I look at the neighbours’ tulips and wonder how it is we get squirrel-ravaged and they don’t. The neighbours have dozens and hundreds of brilliant yellow and pink tulips. We buy apple cider vinegar to spray our tulips. We spray them. It works for a day. Then it rains. We spray them again. Etcetera. Finally, the stems are tall and the buds come out, bright red. They bloom. In a day the blooms are gone, eaten by squirrels.

I scan Netflix recommendations for something we haven’t seen. Everything I find centres on the deaths of sixteen-year-old girls, found semi-naked and sprawled in a forest. Even the newly touted major roles for women actors stick with the formula, which is apparently a thrill for most people. It makes me sick.

I read about the siege of Leningrad in the wonderful novel by Helen Dunmore, The Siege and The Betrayal. I go into the garden and take a fistful of white pine needles and imagine existing on a soup made by boiling them. There are hardships greater than this.

I have started mixing up whole weeks. I keep thinking it is later in May than it is. I envy New York, London, where restaurants and movies have opened. I invigilate the hostas as if they were students writing an exam, prowling up and down the row hoping to find them hard at work growing. I also watch the cacti on the deck but they are slow moving, even slower than time.

One or two bits of news. Govier.com is gone and I have katherinegovier.com. Have a look. And if you hurry there is one more day to see my speech Writing in a Pandemic in the Japan-Canada Literary Festival. https://katherinegovier.com/last-chance-to-hear-katherine-on-writing-in-a-pandemic/

Alexis Hurley

InkWell Management
521 5th Avenue, Suite 2600, 
New York, New York 10175

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