We and Covid - theHumm February 2021
We and Covid - theHumm February 2021
By Frank Hirst
Frank Hirst is the author of A View from the Forest — a non-fiction collection of stories about his life. Born in England in 1939, Frank came to the Ottawa Valley in 1948. He taught for two years each in Ottawa, Northern Ontario and Dawson City, spent four years at Queen’s and retired from high school teaching in 1990, returning to his farm. Frank lived off the land for the most part in the Ottawa Valley, in a log cabin he built in the bush with his wife and kids. Frank’s adventures, captured in ink, have been low-key but memorable in their own unique ways. Here is his submission to theHumm’s Winterwords invitation to write:
I’m going to start with a repeat of the first part of our 2020 Christmas letter: “We’ve had Covid around here since just after last Christmas. We trust that you are well and are doing fine in spite of it. Our lives have been changed as we are sure that everyone’s has been. Since about March we have been locked in the house and our daughter Laurie has done all of the shopping.”
It’s not too bad being cooped up like this. It’s not as if we were living on the eighteenth floor of a huge high-rise complex in a very small apartment in a large city somewhere. And all of the amenities on the ground floor are shut down: the exercise room, pool, coffee bar and community spaces. And outside the city has closed all the parks so there is nowhere to walk.
Those may be major contributing factors to all of the anger that is out there, as well as all the depression and spousal abuse.
By comparison we are blessed. My wife Jean and I live in a semi-autonomous granny suite in the basement of the house we built. We each have a bedroom. There is a bathroom and a kitchenette. And the highlight of it all is our magnificent greenhouse, fifty feet long and twelve feet wide, fully insulated and heated with a small propane stove. It is completely crammed with house plants which go outside when the weather gets warmer. Tending the greenhouse was largely how we weathered the first lockdown. We also have a furnished living room at one end. As an aside and before you start to think about how privileged we are, you must know that there has been much sacrifice. We built the house in pieces, living in a semi-finished part while we worked on another area when we got home from work. We took no mortgage but built as we could afford. We were years before we got any new furniture and have always driven used cars, some of them certifiable clunkers.
All of this to explain our self-sufficiency and our reason to be able to weather Covid lockdowns.
We are further blessed by our daughter. As a teenager she worked in a nursing home and what she saw even then convinced her that her parents would never live in one. So no long-term care home for us, and she looks after us quite well. Granted we are not incontinent or disabled in any way, although I have bad knees which because of a catastrophic heart attack cannot be repaired. So walking is a problem. And Jean’s arm and shoulder require regular doses of pain killer. Other than that we are blessed.
We went out to the greenhouse this morning, later than usual, with our beverage of choice. There was no rush to be elsewhere. The getting up and going or doing phase of our life is over. Jean says that among the native Canadians we would be the cherished elders. We would sit by a fire with a blanket around our shoulders and watch, just watch.
The watching part is pretty much how we have weathered Covid so far.
But now we are well into the second wave of Covid, an equally stringent lockdown is in place, and we are told even more forcefully to stay home. The word being bruited about by politicians and health care officials? Dire! In addition, a more virulent form of the disease is taking hold and our chance of getting vaccinated is months away.
So we will continue to do what we have done. We will stay home, spend time in our greenhouse. We had planned to go into town regularly to walk a cleared sidewalk and get some exercise, but we have chosen to obey the stay-at-home mandates. There is a treadmill in the greenhouse, and I try to do some other light exercise in addition.
And in three short months we can start putting some of the more hardy plants outside.
By Sally Hansen
Art… and Soul
When theHumm first featured oil painter Kaija Savinainen Mountain (her married name) in 2007, she responded to my inevitable question as to why she created her art with this statement: “I have a terrible need to create. It chases me.” She has continued her race to the top of her creative powers, but she has raised the bar on her ambitions. Today her answer is: “Nature needs our respect and care more than ever these days, and I challenge us all to be mindful of......
In the December issue of theHumm we issued an “invitation to write” by the name of Winterwords — asking readers to contribute up to 1000 words on the theme of “Back to Better in the Valley” and to contact us if they were interested in facilitating a writing workshop of some kind. The response has been warm and wonderful, and we are delighted to launch the 2021 Winterwords schedule of online events. All are free (or by donation to facilitators), and there is room for additional workshops should mo......
Artistic Excellence in our Area - theHumm February 2021
By Miss Cellaneous
Mary Pfaff: Companions
From February 17 to March 26, Sivarulrasa Gallery in Almonte is pleased to present Mary Pfaff: Companions, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Almonte-based artist Mary Pfaff. The Gallery is thrilled that this exhibition will include, in addition to new smaller works, four new 60-inch canvasses entitled Beyond, Home, Uncertainty, and Conversing with the Trees.
Mary Pfaff earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts (with distinction) fro......
Build a Birdhouse! - theHumm February 2021
By Glenda Jones
The birdhouse auction in support of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists is only three months away, and crafters are scouring their treasures for the makings of a unique creation to tempt bidders. While a classic wooden house will suffice, a dwelling that once was a watering can or a toy could up the interest. Turn children loose with a box of odds and ends, and their imaginations are limitless. An old key will become a perch; an assortment of bottle caps will become shingles; a milk carton will......
By Kris Riendeau
Just before Christmas, I picked up a copy of Vickie Walsh’s Guide to Hiking Trails in Ottawa and Region. As I perused the pages and learned about many trails with which I had not yet become acquainted, it occurred to me that Vickie’s insights would be a wonderful addition to theHumm. Imagine my delight when she responded to my enquiry to say that she had just moved to Almonte and was interested in collaborating! Her background is varied and fascinating, and her dedication to promoti......
By Emily Pearlman
“I am inspired by empowered young people coming to realize our place in the world as the last generation to challenge Climate Change and environmental injustices,” says Ahlena Sultana-McGarry, one of the facilitators of Climate Network Lanark’s Youth for Climate Action group. She speaks with a quiet confidence which seems the right note to strike with the twelve young people from across Lanark who recently assembled as strangers for the group’s first meeting.
Sultana-McGarry, a graduate in Cro......
By Susie Osler
I ride a friend’s beautiful big black horse Izzy out into the fields on a farm east of Perth. It is a gloriously eerie afternoon in late November. A wet snow has fallen on not-yet-frozen ground and now a thick, vaporous veil of fog has gathered over the land.
Izzy is a game companion and I anticipate the adventure we have ahead of us. When the curtain of fog closes around us, separating us from buildings and barns, suddenly I am transported into the pages of childhood books — a girl on a pony, ve......
Finding Joy in Lockdown - theHumm February 2021
By Sarah Kerr
I had a bit of the “blue Monday” feels as I sat down to write this month’s Little Humm column. But the whole point of this column is to add some joy and encouragement to all my parenting peeps in the Valley. So in an effort to find inspiration for February, which is currently forecasting a continued lockdown and possibly a polar vortex, I decided to survey the kids of the Ottawa Valley to see how they think we should handle this situation. And it turns out, they’re not as upset about lockdown in wint......
Back to Better in the Valley - theHumm February 2021
By Jeanne d’Arc Labelle
Jeanne d’Arc Labelle sent in this thoughtful note and hopeful poem in response to our Winterwords invitation to write. She says: “I see the turbulence of the pandemic posturing on the unknown, all the while… its isolation being spun into hope, and gratefulness; and in small and big ways, all around me. I wondered, could such a context be captured in ‘Tritina Poetry’? Tritina poetry is choosing three words (1,2,3), to be used in rotation, at the end of three sentences, using ......
Dear Little One - theHumm February 2021
By Jaaron Hamilton
Jaaron Hamilton sent in this letter to her young son (as well as the photo) as her contribution to theHumm’s Winterwords invitation to write:
By the time that you’ll be reading this, all of this will be a distant memory. Maybe you’ll be reading about it in your history textbook, or watching a documentary about it on Netflix. In any case, there is one thing that is absolutely certain: this was not the year that we imagined. I don’t know what we expected, but this definitely wasn’t it.......
By Nick McCabe
Nick McCabe sent in this gently insightful contribution to theHumm’s Winterwords invitation to write. Artist Catherine Orfald allowed us to use her painting Ontario Farm Remains to accompany it.
This past summer, while tying up our tomatoes in the garden for what felt like the 100th time, my wife noticed our son Theo, in flight, speeding past the garden with a rusted-old-broken-thingamajig in hand toward the woodshed. She, boldly, remarked as to whether he had gotten around to co......
We and Covid - theHumm February 2021
By Frank Hirst
Frank Hirst is the author of A View from the Forest — a non-fiction collection of stories about his life. Born in England in 1939, Frank came to the Ottawa Valley in 1948. He taught for two years each in Ottawa, Northern Ontario and Dawson City, spent four years at Queen’s and retired from high school teaching in 1990, returning to his farm. Frank lived off the land for the most part in the Ottawa Valley, in a log cabin he built in the bush with his wife and kids. Frank’s adventures, captur......
By Jill McCubbin
It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. Or as my son said: “We are blessed to live in these times and we are cursed to live in these times.”
And so, in these times, libraries have ......
What is a Certified Feline Master Groomer and how can one help you and your cat? For Cassandra Prince, co-owner of The Cat’s Meow, the answer is multifold. Regular cat grooming can help owners wh......
Feb 17 - Mar 26 Exhibition: Mary Pfaff's paintings
Mar 10 - Apr 16 Exhibition: Jim Hake's Sculptures
- Kaija Savinainen —A Brush with a Gifted Environmental Activist
- Interested in Writing? Check Out Winterwords Online Events!
- Artistic Excellence in our Area
- Build a Birdhouse!
- Happy Hiking: an Interview with Vickie Walsh
- The Last Generation: to Act on Climate Change
- Hedgerow (where the domestic and the wild mix and mingle)
- Finding Joy in Lockdown
- Back to Better in the Valley
- Dear Little One