I’ve just come back from our first walk in the countryside since our return to Canada on March 29th. Unlike during a walk in Ecuador, I never did manage to feel warm even though the walking pace was good and brisk. In Ecuador, I wore only a tan-through Kiniki bathing suit, mini briefs. And at times when the conditions were right, nothing at all. Here on the prairies, I wore two layers of pants including wind pants, three layers on the top half of my body, double layer mitts-gloves, a tuque, and a scarf that served as a face mask. With the temperature at -12 Celsius and a brisk breeze from the northwest bringing the temperature closer to -20 C., there wasn’t any hope of staying warm, let alone warming up and seating beneath my winter parka. Still, it was worth it. Likely I will go out for a second walk this afternoon when the temperature is supposed to warm up to about -5. It’s hard to believe that it is springtime as it feels like it is still winter time. This is definitely not the weather for free-hiking, for the liberation from clothing while walking in the abandoned countryside.
That is the weather on the prairies, a constant set of wave patterns that bounce between winter and spring until the summer when a different wave pattern appears that might throw in a spring-like day, followed by a week that is all autumn, before returning to summer. When I hear about the waves of covid19 that are expected to test our adaptations to a new normal, a normal that has yet to define itself, I look at the evidence of nature on the prairies and can better understand.
Easter weekend this year had some snow, some sunshine, and we were tempted to head out for a walk in spite being in quarantine. Many people that we knew just couldn’t self-discipline as they said enough to social distancing and travelled to visit family for Easter. In places where the weather was actually nice, the abandonment of the distancing principle was almost an epidemic. Many even protested the whole idea of self-distancing citing rights and freedoms. Though the sober voices of our leaders continued to tell us otherwise, our immediate perceptions of reality convinced us that “enough is enough.”
Unlike the next wave of winter, it isn’t just a matter of finding our winter clothing or turning up the thermostats in our homes. Covid19 doesn’t respect our attitudes and certainties. We let down our precautionary measures and a new wave will catch us unprepared. And, we will likely blame someone else for our own behaviours – government leaders, health professionals, a foreign power – just like we blame the weatherman for an unexpected storm that returns us to winter for a while.
We have a long way to go as a collective. We will suffer for our arrogance, our entitlement, our projection of responsibility onto others.