Manitoulin Island a good place to be during a pandemic

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As I sat with my sister the other night enjoying a great dinner celebrating my birthday, we started talking about how long it has been since we had a real celebration with more than one person at the table, sharing food and wine. This dinner had been made by good friends who then asked my sister to deliver it to other friends so we could have a sort of celebration. I have great friends and family.

Anyway, can you believe it has been almost a year since this whole craziness started? The first lockdown happened in March 2020 and the world hasn’t been the same.

Other than being tired of what is going on and not being able to see friends and family in the traditional sense, I have been fortunate. My life has carried on much the same and I haven’t had the stresses that I would imagine thousands of Canadians have gone through.

It’s been a year of questions of, will I lose my job, will there be layoffs, will I lose my business, can I apply for CERB, what if I get COVID, what if I get sick and I don’t have sick days, who will look after my kids if the school is closed, will I be safe if I wear a mask? Will I get thrown out of my apartment if I can’t pay rent, where can I go for help if I don’t have money or food, should I keep my kids home from school, will it hurt my kids to keep them home, will it hurt to send them to school … and on and on.

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The stress levels for many have been astronomical and, unfortunately, seem to be continuing and although we have gotten somewhat used to behaving differently, I’m sure you are as sick of it as I am.

Although I would like to think I have been handling our different world with grace and aplomb, I can’t really say that and look you in the eye. I have gained the “pandemic weight” that everyone is talking about. I made bread and somehow convinced myself that I could eat anything I wanted because hey we are in a different world.

Plus, I told someone in a store to “f-off’.  I was standing waiting to pay and a guy came in without a mask and I said very nicely, “did you forget your mask?” Because hey, who hasn’t done that?

Well, he started by saying it didn’t help anyway and he didn’t believe in it and as I was backing away, he then asked, “did you enjoy your first Communist Christmas”?

I stopped dead, rolled my eyes and said, “oh f-off” and walked away.

I guess he figured since the government was requesting we not travel, wear masks and look out for each other, we are being sheep and just being controlled? I guess that’s what he meant by communist?

I would suggest he take a look at what living in a communist state is; believe me, we aren’t in one.

So, like I said, not very gracious and I was embarrassed I let him get to me that way.

So here we are one year into our new way of living and three lockdowns or has it been four? You know what, though? Some neat things have been happening. Many townships are putting in outdoor rinks for people to enjoy and to get outside and have fun. A lot of our restaurants are offering takeout and some have even been offering delivery. Which is a cool thing for Manitoulin. People are becoming creative in figuring out ways to celebrate events and still have lots of fun.

Islanders have done an amazing job keeping people safe and healthy and we need to keep it going. I know it’s hard, but compared to the deaths and sickness that have been happening elsewhere in Canada and around the world, we are so fortunate to be here. We’ve got this, Islanders.

Ruth Farquhar is a freelance writer based on Manitoulin Island.

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