“It has been difficult not to see my father, a resident at Providence Manor”
Kimberly Sutherland Mills describes how her family has been coping with the COVID-19 pandemic
In some ways, the pandemic has been easily managed for me. As an introvert, spending more time at home wasn't a difficult transition. I've been working from my dining room, and occasionally my deck or my backyard hammock, since April. Our two young adult children were already at home, transitioning from school into the workforce, so when they were laid off we didn't have financial worries for them, and thankfully my husband and I were able to continue working.
It has been difficult not to see my father, a resident at Providence Manor, but we know that he is safe and well cared for by the staff. They were wonderful with my mom, chatting with her a couple times a week to give her updates, and arranging a Facetime chat. My mother was finally able to see him in person this morning for the first time - separated by safety glass but closer than she's been in months.
With most places closed and travel not an option, I spent more time on activities that I already loved — preparing new foods in my kitchen (yes, including the ubiquitous sourdough!), preparing my vegetable beds, and expanding my flower gardens. I'm transitioning my front yard from grass to a more meadow-like setting, so I've been poring over native plant sites and ordering a variety of wildflowers and grasses to include as I push the garden borders closer and closer to the street.
As a nature-loving family, it has been challenging to be confined to our home during the pandemic. Our first planned camping trip was cancelled when Ontario Parks shut down, and after a visit to a very busy Lemoine Point early on in the pandemic we've been sticking to our own neighbourhood. Happily, word about our transitioning lawn seems to be getting out in the local wildlife community and our family has been delighting in the birds and other visitors to our gardens.
One early evening we counted 8 mourning doves, several sparrows, a pair of cardinals, a pair of downy woodpeckers, and of course a number of grackles. We've had other more unexpected visitors. A pileated woodpecker occasionally visits the large tree by the street, a merlin falcon dropped in (unfortunately for the robin it enjoyed for lunch), and a wild turkey dropped by for a snack under the birdfeeders. We also had a brief one-day visit by Baltimore Orioles who must have been passing through. A family of young squirrels were raised in the same tree the woodpecker loves so much, and they have been visiting our lawn to share the birdfeeder treats and play tag. My daughter built them a picnic table and sets out daily feedings of sunflower seeds. This is a source of delight to everyone walking through the neighbourhood - we witness lots of laughter, smiles, and even one driver stopping suddenly to back up and snap some photos.
As things begin to open up, we will continue to be cautious. My son has returned to work as a (now virtual) escape room host at Improbable Escapes, and my daughter hopes that opportunities will open up for her soon. Frontenac Park opened their back country sites, and my husband and I enjoyed a couple days paddling and hiking on Little Salmon Lake. More people are out and about downtown. Hopefully we'll all stay safe and follow precautions so that we can keep moving forward. In the meantime, I'm off to feed my sourdough and top up the birdfeeders!