Some reflections on 2020

I usually have a calendar hanging somewhere in my kitchen. I make notes on it, jot down birthdays and appointments. Even with all kinds of devices – iPad, phone, laptop – I have always taken comfort in writing things on the wall calendar, flipping over the page at the end of each month and enjoying a new picture. Before I retired I would receive a wide array of calendars as gifts or promotions and I’d choose one with pictures or messages I liked the most. For some reason in 2020, I did not get a calendar! For the entire year! But for 2021 I have a lovely calendar full of pictures of little frogs peeping from a variety of plants. These are photos of wee frogs from Mayne Island and they are always exciting to come across in real life as they are so tiny and precious!

Perhaps because of this oversight in getting a calendar, in starting my year off on the right foot, I am partially to blame for the catastrophic year that was! Well…no, not really. Having no calendar hanging on my wall to anchor my life to is merely symbolic. We all know it has been a year of disappointments! Personally, cancelling that wonderful UK trip with my sister was particularly tough! I dream of it still; two weeks in England, taking in the Chelsea Flower show, a day in Oxford, wandering around London and then off on the train to Dublin to drive around Ireland for another week! I will rebook that trip as soon as we are assured that travel can safely resume. But it was a sad day when we had to cancel all of our bookings.

My friend and I went to the Pacific Northwest Flower show as a teaser and quite literally left Seattle hours ahead of the pandemic! Fortunately we had no idea what was coming as we wandered through the crowded and wonderful flower show for several days! It was only later that we realized that we had really been very fortunate. The morning after we returned the Covid19 epidemic hit full force and picked up speed every day since.

It’s a waste of time listing recriminations against the horrid US President, other world leaders, covid deniers, anti-maskers and anti-vaxers, and endlessly reckless and stupid people who have mismanaged, misbelieved, misbehaved and generally botched all efforts to handle a worldwide pandemic in any effective way. As a species human beings are fairly hopeless. If we are not killing off endangered creatures and ignoring the looming climate crisis we are regressing in our treatment and inclusion and acceptance of our fellow human beings! The intelligence that is supposed to set is above the creatures on the earth has not been evident this year. It appears that the more we know the stupider we get!

Despite missing travel, my grandchildren, family events, lunch with friends, hugging, going where I want when I want and feeling free to great strangers without masking up and scrubbing down afterwards, this past year was full of rewards. My bees have enriched my neighbourhood with more flowers and fruit. A massive tree fell on our cabin but did minor damage and we will start a stumpery with much of the remains. My boards and committees continued to meet and get things done despite the absence of face to face engagement. My grandchildren grew and matured and continue to be funny and smart and charming and lovely. The new twins brought joy to everyone in their circle neither knowing nor caring about covid. We miss my daughter that died but we are all living on and finding ways to keep her in our minds, hearts and conversations!

Despite covid, we have been free to read and learn, laugh and reminisce, cherish each other more than ever, value our time together, find innovative ways to connect. We have seen our health care workers and our teachers and everyone who provides the services we take for granted, that keep our world functional, in a whole new way. We have realized the vital and invaluable role they all play, and learned to appreciate them, and thank them. Except for the chronically unhappy, deluded, cruel or ruthless (and sadly we discovered more of them than we knew) we have found humanity and vulnerability in each other and helped each other to be resilient and patient and kind!

But back to my calendar with the little frogs. The coming year is full of challenges and ups and downs, like life always is. But I am optimistic we will come through the pandemic and with any luck will retain those wonderful qualities we found and discard the bad habits and old hates and fears. And the days ahead will beckon us once again to look forward and outward and appreciate our lives and take action to protect our beleaguered planet and all its creatures.

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