Distancing and Socializing

I live in a condo building with an exceptional rear yard. It backs onto a creek with a bordering path which is town park. Since the building is about the thirty years old, it was able to be erected on a large block of land. Certainly it has far more outside space than the modern retirement home nearby which sits on a busy road and does not have room for paths or an outdoor visitor parking lot.

During the early days of the pandemic the weather was cool and damp but I managed to walk around the building even on miserable days. I could not sit outside as the chairs for the residents had been stored inside for the winter; however, the weather finally improved and the seats reappeared under the large gazebo and pergola.

Life outside became busy. A few individuals came out after lunch often to read in a shady corner. The larger groups arrived to sit and talk about mid-afternoon maybe after a little siesta. We are a senior population after all. And because we are belong to an older demographic, many of us have underlying health conditions. We stay home, unwilling to roam the streets in noisy mobs, pack into crowded bars or hold covid-19 parties. Surviving for several decades has allowed to acquire some common sense along with the grey. white, and missing hair.

The peoplescape is almost as interesting as the floral kind. When I come outside wearing my mask I have several sitting choices. If my Danish friend is tending her lovely patch of garden she will often invite me to sit under her umbrella and chat. Six feet apart of course. I might walk to the pergola section to meet up with solitary readers or to say hello to the English couple who play Scrabble.

The Grass Group sits under the shade of one of the large trees where the most regular pair drink their pre-dinner cocktail and are joined by various friends. The Gazebo Group is the largest gathering. Everyone who walks past on the path or comes over to sit with them is greeted by name. It reminds me of the CHEERS sitcom when Norm entering the bar is always hailed by his shouted name.

So what do we do in our beautiful back yard? We tell each other how lucky we are to live in such a pleasant place, tell stories both short and tall and crack jokes. Our backgrounds are mixed. People have come to live here da from such countries as Northern Ireland, England, Ireland, Finland, Denmark and New Zealand. A couple one afternoon said after a quick survey of the people around them, that they were the born Canadians. However they kindly allowed the interlopers to stay with them under the gazebo.

The back yard is a place where news is quickly transmitted. It reminds me of a central place like a village well where people gather and talk. We hear if someone dies, falls ill or goes to the hospital. We also learn about minor matters like losing objects in the grounds or parking problems. Apartment renovations especially noisy ones are always a hot topic.

This year a new gardening group of volunteers was established. They planted annual flowers along the driveway and in the back yard. We even have a herb patch. Now they care for the plants by watering, deadheading and pruning. The gardens look wonderful after all the hard work and definitely add to the enjoyment of all residents. I have found that the pandemic has made me feel more grateful for things I may have previously taken for granted. Flowers are one these. And birds.

The next post may be about family. My background has been on my mind through these months of lockdown and slowdown.