When the first shoe thudded down, we all shuttered ourselves in our homes, hoarding toilet paper, flour and yeast, and trying to adhere to the Stage One guidelines. We learned that some vineyards would deliver wine to our home if we bought a case, which was helpful: the line-ups at the liquor stores were long and slow, and we were drinking a good deal while baking sourdough bread and looking at directions for sewing facemasks. We found that the local distillery sold bottles of hand sanitizer, as well as their usual products, and we purchased both. We washed our hands a lot, noticed how much we were touching our faces and tried to stay cheerful and kind. We slept a lot, and many of us gained weight.
When Stage Two was announced, things eased up considerably as we expanded our bubbles, shopped more, and went, if somewhat nervously, to restaurants. We planted gardens outside or on balconies or patios. It looked like the curve was beginning to flatten and we started to feel smug about how well Canadians were doing – especially in BC, we said, especially on Vancouver Island. Small islands were doing best of all. We began to talk about the future. Some of us spoke about the trips we planned to take.
Now we are in Stage Three, which feels as though we are getting back to normal. The traffic is as busy as it was before the virus hit. Hotels, motels, resorts and parks are open, and travel within the province is encouraged. (Some indigenous locations in B.C. are not welcoming visitors at present which makes sense, given the devastation they have experienced in the past from smallpox and flu brought into their communities.) Movie theatres are opening up people are out in full force in restaurants and hosting small gatherings. Film and television can now take place within our province, within the limitations of safety procedures, and there is agitation for yet greater access to entertainment.
When I’ve been at restaurants and out on the streets lately, I can feel the joy and excitement that is being experienced. The word that comes to my mind is “épanouissement,” which translates as “a sense of blossoming or fulfilment.” Covid-19 is still in our thoughts and often on our lips, but it begins to feel a lot like a normal summer. People are becoming hopeful.
And we should be hopeful; we have flattened the curve, but we may have to wait for a while. Dr Bonnie Henry has said that moving to Stage Four will require widespread vaccination against COVID-19, “Community” immunity, and broad successful treatments. And if we start to experience spikes in new cases because of the loosening of restrictions, the restrictions will return. We will move backwards.
I was encouraged to watch a recent interview with Thomas Homer-Dixon, a professor and author who is the Director of the New Cascade Institute at Royal Roads University.
Royal Roads President Philip Steenkamp says the institute will bring researchers together to investigate how global pandemics, climate change, growing wealth inequality, economic destruction, social upheaval and political instability are interconnected. As we moved towards Stage Four, we are realizing that we’ll be dealing with a new kind of world where we will have to make progress on all these issues and their inter-relationships. It’s timely.
Homer-Dixon has a new book, soon to be released, called Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril.
I’m going to order it.
While I wait for Dr. Henry’s other shoe to drop.