Sunday, May 2 – F U COVID
By Dara Mac PEI, CANADA

Phase one of loosening restrictions, whereas some say, we’re allowed to do exactly what we’ve been doing on PEI: driveway visits with people, while keeping a 6 ft distance. Apparently, many were disappointed that the CMO didn’t opt for the ‘Two family bubble’ as in New Brunswick. In that model, each family would choose one other family to be with. I was kind of worried that everyone I’d want to spend time with would have already chosen someone else, and I’d kind of be like the wallflower at the high school dance or the last one chosen for the basketball team. But no, our CMO wanted us to have more flexibility and more variety in our lives for our personal, emotional, physical, and mental health.

Premier Dennis King was being interviewed on a local radio station when he said, “FU Covid,” hoping it would give islanders a boost. Two local T-shirt makers went to work on it immediately and have sold “FU Covid” T-shirts across the island. It’s our Premier’s version of Nova Scotia’s “Stay the Blazes Home.” So between Premier Dennis King’s “FU” and Dr. Heather Morrison’s not-in-a-bubble PEI, I’m feeling like this home is a good choice for me.

Within 5 minutes of my walk-in town, a horn sounded, and a car pulled over. Sure enough, out springs, my cousin- busted! I never look at drivers because I grew up in Montreal as an anonymous person, so I never think that it might be someone I know. There is no anonymity here- love it or hate it!

My mother was born on PEI, but she left as a young teen and lived most of her adult life in Montreal, Quebec. That’s where she met my dad, who was a Francophone Montrealer. Although our whole family is bilingual in English and French, we were educated at English school, thereby making us ‘spic and span’ growing up in Montreal. There were lots of language wars both in and out of our household, but I left Montreal before it became illegal to speak my first language in my hometown.

Montreal reportedly has as many Covid-19 cases as all of Ontario, while the province of Quebec has the highest number of confirmed cases in the country. Nonetheless, a Radio Canada reporter asked the PM this past week, why PPE is showing up in unilingual packaging at a time where shortages are the biggest concern (or at least they ought to be). If a pandemic doesn’t do it, wonder what it will take for things to get real. Though, growing up in Montreal had lots of benefits, including being exposed to a multicultural society; to be able to visit different neighborhoods to enjoy a whole new rich, cultural, ethnic experience.

Some lovely musical stuff is emerging from this pandemic like an online hang /drum lesson with a local drummer/educator/ friend and two other PEI drummers I hadn’t met before. We receive charts and instructions on FB messenger and have a Zoom class once a week. It’s a great way to connect, but I’m still feeling awkward about video face to face after being on my own for 7 weeks! I’m more comfortable being in the background and quietly watching talks, lessons, and in -house concerts. In this pandemic, I also discovered Emmet Cohen’s Trio that broadcasts weekly from Emmet’s home in Harlem, NYC. What a fabulous jazz piano player and great bass and drum accompanists. Even though rural PEI internet is sketchy, I’m still enjoying lots of great connections.

So I went to town this week to print off some charts and get supplies. Grocery shopping is something I think I’d like to leave out right now, but I was low on most everything, and my ‘guru’ son warned that things could get worse. What makes shopping even more stressful is the lack of masks and the close proximity of the non-believers. They make it known that they are going to do things their own way like we are not in Emergency Measures times.

For example, this senior (to me) lady goes strolling up the down aisle towards me, no mask, no gloves, and I point to the arrow pointing towards her at her feet. She lets me know she doesn’t give a dam- so I say with goggles, mask, and gloves, “Well, maybe, you’ve had a good life, but I’d like to have a few more years.” I have to look into other options because it’s just too stressful and definitely brings out the worst in me.

Afterward, I walked (6 feet apart) with my friend and best doggie, Taz, which was the first time we’d seen each other in 7 weeks. I noticed a whole bunch of things on the path that I usually walk right past. This stay-at-home thing is definitely sharpening my senses and offering me a broader perspective. For example, I used to give a confused look when locals at a nearby fishing village would say,” Oh, you live in the backwoods of Rustico.” I would think well, there are a lot of trees around, but I don’t think so. Then I started hearing the daily calls of a Barred Owl and looking everywhere on my daily walks, and yes, I do live in the backwoods! Wow! Isn’t that great!!!!

Even practicing regular meditation and mindfulness for years does not compare to the rich experience of living through the pandemic. As others have noted, it is a journey into the core of ourselves. If we have followed our hearts, we’re in luck because we’re surrounded by our choices day in and day out. I am so deeply grateful for all that I have, all that I am and all that is becoming. The planet is healing, and humanity also has an opportunity to heal.