Not to sound too cliché, but on a cool, drizzly day like today, summer seems a faint memory. We are deep into fall, now. Leaves are down in many places, we’ve had frost a few times, the gardens are all put to bed. And today it is raining. Sigh. But, despite the chill and the rain today, I am counting my blessings. Feeling grateful that, all things considered, I was able to have a pretty good summer. No, scratch that. A great summer. A sustaining summer.
Like everyone else in most other places, I found spring to be, shall we say, a bit underwhelming. Quiet. Anxiety provoking. Sometimes lonely. We weren’t seeing anyone, except for my sister Carolyn once on her doorstep. I remember she called my mum later and said what a nice visit we’d had. Us standing on her lawn, her leaning against her front door. I also had a lovely, if slightly frenetic, chat in April with Elizabeth who owns The Unrefined Olive when Hubby and I went to pick up our curbside order. “Hello!” I shouted excitedly through my mask. “How wonderful that you are open. I hope everyone is well.” Blah, blah, blah, you know, the regular Covid-19 I haven’t talked to another human being in person for so long conversation.
Then in June we went camping. For five days we waved cheerily at fellow campers, and I mean everyone we saw, from a distance, not approaching, just waving and calling hello. Everyone was so pleased to see everyone else. Isolation will do that to you.
Then summer came in earnest, and Ottawa opened up a bit more. Restaurant patios opened. Our infection rates dropped, and most of us felt a bit more comfortable going out. Seeing other people, albeit safely, outdoors mostly, socially distanced, and wearing masks indoors.
Early in the summer my friend Linsey and I started walking together again. For me, that was the first face-to-face meeting with a friend since March. We talked so much we overshot our usual turning spot and for a minute had no idea where we were. I came home to Hubby that day, exuberant. Revitalized by the walk, and the yakking.
In July, I had my first hair appointment in months and months. And began to feel human again. Now well used to wearing a mask, I ventured out to shop a couple of times. Visiting Katia at Nordstrom to replenish my make-up supply, and take home some free goodies. I hosted a socially-distanced book club meeting on my deck. Wow, it was hot that day, but we all felt invigorated just to be in the company of friends. And we were able to get together twice more before the weather changed. Once in Nancy’s backyard, and the last time round the campfire at Pam’s cottage.
My friend Joanne hosted drinks on her patio, twice. Three or four of the old gang from work shuffled chairs to stay apart, all the while sipping wine, chortling, guffawing, teasing. That was wonderful. Then at the end of the summer, a few of the girls came to my house. Hubby picked produce from the garden, and each carefully positioned chair had a plastic bag of veggies on it when they arrived. Hubby’s version of party favours. Ha. That’s Joanne in the shot below. I made her pose in her Yest polo dress and matching suede Fluevog sandals. I was going to do a post on Jo’s closet of Fluevogs this summer, but Covid-19 interfered. Maybe next year, Jo.
When I recall my summer, I realize I spent a fair amount of time chewing the fat on patios with friends. I met Marina twice for coffee and conversation. I’m still a bit mortified that I didn’t recognize her in her mask. One afternoon my buddy Erica and I met for lunch in Carleton Place. We finished our meal in a downpour, but nothing could dampen our spirits. It was summer and we were OUT! On my friend Susan’s birthday, we met for a delicious and very convivial lunch on the Nordstrom restaurant terrace. I had lunch with my sister twice at her house. I drove down to Brockville, and we ate take-out in her backyard. And talked… and talked. The second time we donned masks and edited her closet.
I ate dinner on the patio at the Black Dog here in Manotick with girlfriends. Once with Sheri and once with Kristin. How wonderful to be able to dress up a bit, and feel normal. And so lovely to catch up with both of these girls, of whom I am inordinately fond. And on an evening in September, Hubby and I met Linsey and her partner for an early supper at the Black Dog, which was fun. By this time, though, we knew the writing was on the wall. The patio season was drawing to a close. Boo hoo.
But I mustn’t grumble. Nor whine. Not a bit.
Let’s add everything up: I had two coffee dates, four lunch dates, three dinner dates, three book club meetings, and drinks with the girls three times. That is fifteen outings. Fifteen! That’s probably more get togethers than I would have had in a normal summer. I only shopped twice. Actually one and a half times, because the first time I gave up and scuttled home to read my book instead. But I don’t shop much in the summer anyway.
Okay, so we didn’t travel. We weren’t able to take our regular bi-annual trip up the Saguenay, nor our annual trip to New Brunswick. That was a little bit hard. I worry about my mum. Don’t tell her I said that. She’s fine. Doing okay. Or so she keeps telling me. I try to compensate for not being there by sending regular shipments of books. The avid reader’s cure for everything.
But in the end, when I lay it all out, despite the odd foggy day, I had a pretty fabulous summer. Way better than I expected. And I am hoping that it will sustain me now that I won’t be visiting patios anymore. Nor hosting book club or drinks on my deck.
We have had an uptick in cases in Ottawa, and in Ontario in general, and so we are returning to stage two of re-opening here, closing down indoor dining, bars, clubs etc. The lack of clubs, bars, and indoor dining makes no difference to us, actually. Still, Hubby and I have agreed that we will both try to be more careful than we’ve been for the past few weeks. Shop less, and see fewer people, even outdoors. Besides, with November will come the cold rains, and then snow, and we won’t want to be sitting outside to eat or drink no matter how warm-hearted the company.
The cloudy skies and drizzle make today a perfect day for counting my blessings. The perfect day to feel grateful for my safe and very sustaining summer. I’m a little bit like the chipmunks and squirrels in our backyard, who’ve been running madly off in all directions, gathering nuts to store for winter. Hubby had a surprise the other day when he grabbed his work gloves off the shelf in our garden shed and couldn’t get his hands into them. An enterprising squirrel had decided that the fingers of his gloves were the perfect place to stash his hazelnuts.
So like a squirrel storing nuts, I spent the summer running madly off in all directions, trying to collect social events before winter. Storing up moments of conviviality and hilarity, of good conversation and mutual affection that hopefully will sustain me for the next few weeks. Or months. And I think I’m quite ready for a slower season. For long walks, just me and Hubby. For evenings by the fire. And afternoons with the smell of baking permeating the house.
That’s if I can convince Hubby that baking will make a good hobby. At least until ski season starts. Ha. What are the odds, do you think?
So it’s your turn now, my friends. How do you feel about the change of seasons? Will this mean less social contact for you too? We all want to know how you’re doing.
P.S. Two of our local businesses deserve a plug from me for all the great service they give. If you are in the Manotick area I can highly recommend Black Dog Bistro. They do take-out. And also The Unrefined Olive. Order on-line. They have curb-side pick-up and will ship as well.
Check out Catherine’s #IWillWearWhatILike link-up post over at Not Dressed as Lamb. You can find it here.