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.

Counting my blessings today, including summer nights like this one.
Summer evening on the river.

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.

A rainy day is perfect for counting my blessings.
Drizzly days are perfect for blogging.

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.


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38 thoughts on “Counting My Blessings”

  1. You have been very fortunate this summer, socially. I haven’t felt so lucky, even though our numbers were low enough in Vancouver that I probably could have gone for walks or met on cafe patios with friends. . . except that most of the friends I would do that with are still back on the island. I was just getting some traction in making some new friends here when lockdown made it tough to meet casually in an acquaintance-building mode. . . The after-class get-togethers with my Italian class obviously didn’t continue once we went to Zoom, and the woman I’d begun meeting with to talk books at a local cafe was now working from home and also home-schooling two kids. Luckily, it’s only 2.5 hours (including a 90-minute ferry ride) to my previous city, so I booked a motel room last month and had laryngitis-inducing visits with three different friends — Not sure when I’ll manage that again given the change of season, but whoa, what a difference it made (I think Paul was grateful ;-). . .
    oh, and I also had a few good Facetime visits — one with social media friends from California and another with a special friend in Ottawa, via Facetime. . . Someday we’ll lose our voices (temporarily) by chatting across a table IRL 😉

  2. In Essex we had lovely weather this weekend, had thanksgiving dinner in the driveway. Still have beans, zucchini, beets and a few squash left in the garden. Lots of walks this summer and the other week took our bikes to Point Pelee to see the new tower 144 stairs to the top.Finally got the latest Sara Paretsky ebook Dead Land to read. Still not looking forward to the winter

  3. “Storing up moments…to sustain us”- what a wonderful post and good outlook for the more difficult months ahead here in Ontario. Gone are the little family barbecues, lattes in the food court and hugs from grandsons for the time being. Thank goodness, though, for facetime, good books, old movies, walks, long phone chats and my dear husband. Young families are out having nerf gun games, biking, jumping in leaves-so uplifting.

  4. Not to be too political , but we don’t feel this emergency has been handled at all well here . Consequently we have felt it very necessary to take care of ourselves . So the last six months have been really quiet for us . Very few arranged get togethers , no pubs or restaurants . We’re not wild extroverts with a big social whirl & have always enjoyed our life at home but we’d normally have about ten weeks a year in Scotland or Wales . We’ve missed that . And I’ve missed going into York . I love the city but haven’t visited since February . Our virus figures have been good but since the visitors & university students returned , not so good . So we decided to update the house we were spending so much time in . We’ve decorated , had curtains made ( yes , I can do that but really hate it ! ) , new bits of furniture & rugs etc . Nothing too big & messy but a freshen up . All done from home of course . We haven’t quite become recluses though . I’ve had distanced meet ups with my sisters & neighbours . A get together with old workmates . Walks in the Dales with friends or family . Zoom quizzes 3 or 4 times a week with different groups are great fun , even the arguments about points make life seem normal & our heads are a whirl with useless facts . There’s been piles of good books & Schitts Creek to enjoy ( love it ) . Walking the dog has been our lifeline though . Every morning whatever the weather we spend an hour or two on our local tracks & paths bumping distantly into other dog walkers for a chat , a moan & a laugh . That will still happen in the winter of course – whether the dog wants to or not 😁But so far we are fine . Friends & family who have caught the virus ( NHS workers ) have recovered well & one is now pregnant . Good things still happening . The car is pointed towards Scotland so it looks like we are going on Saturday . We shall be self isolating there in our hired cottage in the wilds for three weeks . That should set us up for the winter .
    Long post sorry – Covid babbling ?

    1. Wendy, like you, we’ve felt the need to take care of ourselves regardless of what the authorities are saying, because they’ve gotten it wrong so often. Here in LA, we re-opened too early and had to pull back, but we hadn’t changed our behavior (other than my very safe-feeling trips to my hairdresser – she’s a single-woman shop with good protocols and has figured out how I can keep my mask on the *entire* time), so didn’t feel any loss. We’ve eaten out, on patios, exactly three times, and while we’re not averse to doing so again under specifically-selected circumstances, we’re not seeking out those events, either. Basically we’re locked down until the Portugal move, at which point we will lock down again until there’s a vaccine.

    2. We haven’t done any home refreshing this season. But we have decided to dig out the basement and reorganize it as soon as November makes it not good to do stuff outside. Have a great time in Scotland, Wendy.
      P.S. Schitts Creek is Canadian, you know.

  5. Your summer was indeed lovely. As I’m in the other hemisphere, I’ve already had an autumn and winter with Covid-19, including several months of lockdown. I was dispirited and without much energy from mid-May through most of June. The things that helped the most were getting out into nature, even if it was just the local park (though I appreciate that’s easier to do with our mild winters), Zoom yoga, Zoom women’s group meetings and Zoom book group meetings. Of course, reading is always a good idea and expanding our dinner repertoire and baking were also useful. And I am very grateful for blogs like yours, which most definitely helped ease the isolation.

  6. When I look back over the summer, it seems very indistinct. Hot spring days and cooler, wetter summer. I am sure I went for walks. I know I met friends for coffee, twice. I saw my daughter for a few days. That was it. The autumn and winter, whilst full of uncertainty, might be easier for me to manage because my expectations are lower. Writing, sewing, walking. That’s my plan until I burst forth like a short phoenix in the spring again. Now is the time to dig very deep indeed, here in the UK where tempers are frayed and the news is confusing and constantly changing. I wonder how we will all be when we emerge?

  7. Thank you for this reminder of Gratitude! Trying to stay active, socialize safely, and be productive! Don’t want to end this shelter-in-place mandate and wonder what I did with my time.
    Also want to say what good company you were on your last video on closet editing!
    Charlene H

  8. I enjoyed your trip down the lockdown trail. When you add it up, there were more then I thought here as well. We had two visits with grandkids by their pond, about 10 feet apart since I did not trust myself not to touch, a distanced visit in the back yard and 4 distanced coffee group in the park. I met a friend that I usually get together with once a month, and after 5 months, we decided to have a coffee half way between her house and mine.That cuts the drive down to an hour each.Opposite sides and ends of a picnic table, but a great gab fest. I have not missed shopping during this, which I find rather strange as I used to love a good browse, but now there really isn’t much I feel I need at the moment. I have spent hours and hours outside playing in the flower beds and redesigning to keep my mind happy. This is what I will miss most in the winter. I have actually totally cleaned out the garden sheds and had a good toss out. That made me laugh about the gloves as I have had a pine cone in a shoe that was out there as well. Makes you check each time after that. I really enjoy your stories so that feels like another get together with a friend. Take care and be safe.

  9. What a great post! I had a pretty good summer all in all. Living in Nebraska we have hot humid summers, so, as always I am appreciative of our AC. We had several outdoor visits with friends, but did not go to any restaurants (which has helped me lose 8 pounds). We did (and do) many Zoom and FaceTime visits and meetings, sometimes to the point of Zoom fatigue.
    My husband and I have a new schedule that includes playing music together (me on piano and Larry on the double bass), writing in our daily Covid journal, reading books out loud together and exercise. We look forward to those things each day. We each have our own pursuits as well. I am an extrovert (according to Meyers Briggs), but this introverted way of living has agreed with me. That is good, because our Covid-19 numbers are in the scary zone.
    We live in a city, but have a lovely backyard with lots of wildlife. I love watching the squirrels, and Larry is in an ongoing war with them over the rights to the bird feeder! Love the glove story. Thank you for your inspiring post.

  10. Yes, we are having big winds today and need to get the garden put to bed and patio cleaned up a bit. We are having some family over and celebrating our niece’s 27th birthday Friday so need to leave cushions out and will get them put away on Saturday as snow in the forecast. We are having them all be outside, fire pit and “Rug up”. A dinner get together Saturday and nervous as not sure where these people all go and may be indoors a bit. May wear my mask. No desire to get sick with older parents. I think tomorrow will be my ironing day and swap out clothes and shoes. Also going to vote. It has been a strange season and we, too, will struggle with being indoors alone more. We may try our gym as need that for physical and mental health. Had our first family funeral last week and was all outdoors and glad as it is in states who don’t mask up. Ugh. We wear ours. Trying to look at the upside of more reading, crocheting and thankful for my home and husband.

  11. A lovely, reflective post about gratitude, Sue! It’s time for us all to have a think about the good times we were able to having during the summer to sustain us for the fall and winter.

    That woman in the blue dress seemed a bit old for such a short dress, eh? Like, you’re middle aged and should maybe cover up those massive gams? Oh wait…that’s me. You go, girl!

    Better times are ahead. We’ll get through this difficult time and get back to our regular life – likely with an appreciation for what we’ve taken for granted in the past.

  12. Sue, ladies, thank you for a most wonderful post and comments. I don’t feel so alone. We are all going through it together, all over the world. Massive social distance hugs…and prayers to stay safe and good vaccines on the way.

  13. We’ve had a pretty good summer too even though it meant staying closer to home than usual. I’m definitely not looking forward to winter though. I never do, but I fear that it’s going to be even more confining than usual.

    How fun that you have a bistro called the Black Dog. When we taught in China, we frequented a tiny restaurant that all the English teachers called the Black Dog, only because we had no idea what it’s Chinese name was and the owner had a black cocker spaniel that wandered around the premises.

  14. I’m late getting to this post but as always, thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes to stopping to think about everything that’s still good: our health and being able to enjoy being outside. Fall is my favorite season and I’ve really been relishing it, knowing that many of the things we have enjoyed the past months to break the monotony will end soon. So then we will again enjoy sitting by the fireplace and drinking hot beverages. There is always something to savor as we move through the seasons. We decided to order a tall outdoor heater, hoping to keep socializing with others for a few more weeks. We’ll also be able to be outside sooner in the spring! I bought Louise Penny’s new book, and look forward to savoring that, with images of Paris and a wonderful trip to France last year at this time. Keep writing Sue!

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