It’s summer — but the 2020 pandemic has changed most things about how we enjoy this season.
Knowing that the virus sneakily lurks and may pounce again keeps me sheltered with my husband in our ‘bubble’ at the cottage. Rates of infection in our part of Ontario are low but that doesn’t mean throwing precaution to the wind.
Besides physical distancing, wearing a mask when in public, and frequently washing hands, experts advise that staying home as much as possible is still the safest thing anyone can do. When interacting with others, choosing outdoor meeting places is recommended as a better option than meeting inside.
Summer 2020 at the cottage feels different without a schedule of weekend visitors. Nor do we have friends coming for day visits with long lunches on the deck. The three summer playhouses within easy driving distance have cancelled all shows. Beach concerts are a distant memory. The local winery is closed. Spending time on the beach means social distancing with groups no larger than 10 people. Although shops are open, I’m not visiting any of the stores that pop up every summer; my shopping is limited to the grocery store, pharmacy and liquor store.
It sucks to think about what we can’t do. Instead, I’m focusing on the positives and spending this time with summer diversions.
2020 Summer Pandemic Diversions
I wake up every day to beautiful summer weather. With no schedule, I have time to explore forest trails in this beautiful area surrounding Lake Huron. Because many tourists have stayed home this year, trails are almost deserted.
Lake levels are high so many beaches have limited sandy spots but the lake water is cool and always provides a refreshing dip. On more than 20 days during July, temperatures topped 30 degrees Celcius precipitating heat warnings.
The high temperatures mean at least one dip every day. Sometimes a leisurely evening swim is in order as night temperatures are almost as warm as daytime.
Although libraries are closed, a local library about 15 kilometres away offers twice a week curbside pick up for books reserved online. There is also the option of digital books but I prefer reading a ‘real’ book. When the library hasn’t got what I want, Amazon delivers. This summer I’m trying to read the five Canada Reads finalist books https://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads as well as the ten books that one of my book clubs selected for monthly discussions beginning in September.
Thank goodness for Netflix as when the reading gets tiring, there are movies to watch. Occasionally my husband and I play cribbage or a two-handed form of bridge.
There is little socializing but we’ve attended a couple of social distancing parties with neighbours on cottage decks or seated in lawn chairs on shady driveways. These events feature ‘bring your own’ cooler refreshments and glasses. Although we hesitate to attend many of these parties, on occasion, it’s fun to find creative ways to visit a small group of friends while staying safe.
Things get hectic when our son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren (the only people included in our ‘bubble’ of safe visitors) pay a weekend visit. The noise level increases, with lots of boisterous activity. The kitchen goes into overdrive as appetites expand in the fresh air and children need snacks several times each day. There’s both relief and sadness when they leave — relief from the demands of children and sadness because we miss their company.
A Forced Rest
Since coming to the cottage I’ve noticed that most days feel like Sundays. This has me reflecting on the weekly rhythm of work and rest. The pandemic has interrupted this rhythm. I focus on the blessings of this forced rest.
In childhood, my parents adhered strictly to keeping Sunday as a day of rest. The pandemic is forcing a re-evaluation of the rhythms and habits taken for granted before mid-March. It’s a positive move to change these habits. When forced to rest and stay home, new habits are forming.
When the 2020 pandemic summer ends, we’ll reluctantly go back to our urban home and visit the cottage only on weekends. Hopefully, some of the new habits will have taken hold. Science tells us that the adjustment period to changes and new behaviours is anywhere from 21 days to 3 months.
We have developed new habits to enjoy the summer. I expect that I will mess up occasionally and get back into old rhythms and habits. However, keeping the virus at bay will require new ways of living regardless of whether it’s at home or at the cottage.