From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Even with working full time I cannot help but have more spare time than usual with the isolation measures in place. I do not visit with family, I can’t see friends, I don’t have any volunteer committee meetings and my church is shuttered. So that leaves me with a lot of extra time.
Last weekend I used a few hours of this extra time to don my rubber boots and walk the acreage that I call home. For the most part this is swamp that goes on for marshy metres with the small end of the Pigeon River meandering through in twists and turns. I have many observations of this journey. Firstly, mud in a swamp that no matter how firm it looks will suck you down to the depths in seconds if you are caught unaware. Secondly, unless you think to bring a compass the twisting and turning involved to get around mud holes and bushes soon has you going in circles. Thirdly, with a river that twists and turns, the perspective of where you are on the property is very easily lost or at least confused.
So that was the adventure, mucking around, looking at how the river bank had changed since the last time we had mucked through the land; seeing the beaver den and their network of highways through the property; and, sadly, seeing the litter left by boaters or carried in with the floods from the road- a stark contrast to the otherwise untamed wilderness.
So that was the adventure and as I finally found a fallen log on which to sit, and looked at the river, I reflected that it was easy to forget the troubles of pandemic when focused on the challenges of swamp hiking. And here is the thing – just like my walk, the challenge at hand is that what is sure and well advised can suddenly change or be found to be incorrect and not at all what they seem. We are all in uncharted territory and trying to find our way, but it is hard to know where to solidly step.
It is easy to lose our way because none of us has the luxury to just be home under a blanket – there is school work to get through with the kids, groceries to procure, our jobs to be done, the extra cleaning because we are home so much more, the extra cooking because the default restaurants are closed- and all those extra hours to somehow fill with our families. We can easily lose our way.
On my walk I was stunned at how, at different times, the familiar landmarks in the distance seemed to rearrange. This was due to the fact that I was trekking around a curling river bank yet somewhere in my brain I was convinced that the river bank was going in a straight line. It was like a David Copperfield trick to see the place where my house should be – or at least where the TV tower signalled my house should be – completely disappearing from where my brain thought is should be.
This is how it can feel right now – the sure things, the family rituals, the annual events and rhythms of the work week are all interrupted. Activities that signal the movement of our weeks and years have flitted from view because we are forced to follow where the pandemic and its safety measures are leading us. And unlike my return to home and removal of my muddy boots, we don’t know what the return to normal will look like – we don’t know what pieces of social distancing or heightened disinfecting will linger long into the future.
All we know for sure is that somewhere off in the distance the TV tower is still there, the hugs, gatherings, shared meals, concerts and other important touch points of our years will return, but they just might look a little different. I have not got any of this figured out – nor am I about to write a book on how to survive a pandemic with style – but I know I was tired and muddy and I probably sat on that log for half an hour; then I was rested and I carried on.
When you are tired and muddy, take a rest. When you are rested – carry on, find another log repeat. We will get to the other side of this, even with all of the twists, turns and mud – we have boots, ans we have each other.