2020. It sounded like such a promising new year. The numbers even look kind of bouncy and fun, full of promise and adventure, and safe, somehow.
It just goes to show you, you can’t judge a year by its number.
At this time of crisis, I’ve found that there are many things to be grateful for, one being that we live in Canada. My husband and I spent a month in Florida earlier this year but were back in Ontario before Coronavirus was really seriously on the radar in North America. The prospect of it arriving in Canada and becoming this enormous monster was still just a faint possibility in our minds – one that we didn’t entertain too seriously… surely it couldn’t happen here. But the world is a small place these days; there are few inaccessible places – if any – and the truth is, wherever we go, we leave a footprint of some kind… in this case, it’s a virus. And one we know so little about.
Early on, when people were getting into the panic mode, I realized just how much we take for granted here. What a time of enlightenment it was to not be able to walk into a store and purchase exactly what I wanted when I wanted it. I had never realized that had become a built-in expectation. Time for a reality check. One of the shortages that alarmed us (almost) as much as the lack of toilet paper and hand sanitizer was the apparent run on dog food. Costco shelves were stripped bare of the food our senior pup has eaten for almost a decade… and the same was true of birdseed. We never saw that coming, but hoarding comes in all shapes and sizes.
We were almost witness to another terrible disaster, a situation that was a little too close for comfort for us. Coming back from Florida we made a detour to stop in a tiny town in Tennessee called Gainseboro to visit my ill (and much beloved) Aunt Nell. I am so glad we did. We lost her shortly after that visit. And just a couple of days after her passing, the tornadoes that you might have heard about on the news destroyed parts of the town of Cookeville. We had spent the night there, prior to visiting my aunt and with some time to spare before our scheduled afternoon visit, we decided to have a look at some of the antique shops in town. We were impressed. There were some lovely places (not all were open as it was a Monday). We enjoyed chatting with the people that were in them, comparing notes about the antiques industry there versus here… we learned there is not much difference. I have no idea how those people fared in the aftermath of the three tornadoes (of seven) which hit Putnam County (Cookeville). A local news channel reported that one was an EF-4 strength funnel. Thirteen adults and five children died. The little town my aunt and family live in close by, was spared. So I wonder, as I do about so many similar disasters and critical situations, how all those people are doing, dealing with such devastation and loss of life, homes and possessions… and now coping as well with a pandemic that demands a protocol of social distancing. I can’t begin to perceive how difficult it must be.
On arriving back in Ontario to the on-going winter, I must confess I was not entirely pleased to be here. There was still a month of winter ahead of us. While parts of Ontario had a fairly mild winter and not too much snow, that wasn’t really the case here in Trent Hills. The snow came in early November, and I don’t think I have ever seen so much ice between then and our late January departure. After a few sessions of freezing rain, everything around us was coated in ice for days at a time… and not once, but on several occasions. We couldn’t get into our vehicles, or even out the side door at one point. While we were away, our neighbours reported more of the same – I was so grateful to be strolling the pathways of our favourite park in Titusville without donning boots, gloves, hats and heavy coats. I would rather be dodging ‘gators than navigating ice!
My lack of enthusiasm for being back before spring quickly began to turn around as COVID-19 started to become a frequently used household word and the dots on the world maps representing infected people were getting closer and closer together. Our timing had, in fact, been just about perfect.
As in all dire situations, the unimportant things in our lives suddenly take a back seat and our appreciation for our family, our friends and the roof over our head grows in leaps and bounds. During my deadline, I can get quite stressed trying to pull all of the pieces of the puzzle together. That, however, doesn’t even begin to describe this spring issue… “stressed” is a totally inadequate word to describe trying to compile the paper while being completely distracted by a series of things, personal and otherwise (ie: COVID-19). When I learned we would have to care for our granddaughter while I was dealing with deadline, I was a bit apprehensive… 21-month old toddlers need a lot of attention. Her mom works at a hospital and we all know how important she and her co-workers are right now. (Thank you to all the “front line” people out there!) And her dad’s work was still open at the time. As it turned out, Grandpa was a great help (now that his new hip is firmly installed and working well – although he doesn’t do diapers…) and that precious child brought us so much love and laughter that I felt very blessed to have had her here. The work on the paper did suffer some delays, I’ll admit that, but those hugs and snuggles were well worth the extra effort later on. (I could go on and on and on about our little sweetheart but will refrain. I do hope most people reading this have some of that same special joy in their life; grandkids, kids, grandparents, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, cousins, friends… even a fur kid… whoever brings you joy – what a blessing. Be sure to let them know!)
So… all this brings me to the state of the business of antiques and collectibles. Just like almost everything else, at the time I’m writing this, it’s definitely hurting many people. Shows have been cancelled and/or rescheduled. Shops are closed. I’m guessing auctions have ceased until further notice… it’s a difficult time for everyone. If the expression “misery loves company” is true, we just have to know that almost everyone is in the same big boat. I hope that after the virus peaks and the curve is “planked” it will be business as usual and recovery will be fast and sufficient to make up for this trying time. It will take all of us to help make that happen, especially with small business, which will need your support more than ever and probably require a conscious effort to drive the economy back to where it was. And if you can, don’t forget about all the charitable organizations who are struggling under the current circumstances to provide the services they offer … to humans, to animals, to research – they need our help more than ever. Even if your donation is small, every one helps.
Lastly, as you all probably have surmised by now we have no idea how long the world as we know it will be in shut-down mode. We have many advertisers in the Wayback Times, for both events and brick-and-mortar shops. As things stand right now, the near future is a bit of a mystery for all of us. When things do start to turn around and get back to “normal” PLEASE call ahead (or email, text or visit their website or Facebook page) before you head off to visit a shop or attend an event. None of us knows exactly where this is all headed, so we ask for your patience and your support.
In closing, I am so grateful that this is all taking place at the start of spring and not the beginning of winter. I’m longing to get outside with the birds and the trees and plants that are coming to life – there is so much to do! I said to my husband Peter this morning that this period of social distancing could be the best thing that has happened to this house in a very, very long time!
Take care of yourselves, be mindful of others, be helpful and kind (from a distance)… and most importantly, God bless. Thank you for reading. Please keep well.