Arts Hudson

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Coronicles 2 - Surfing the Second Wave
Tales from the Great Pandemic
by Art MacDonald

As he wrote in Coronicles 1 - Tales from the Great Pandemic, Art usually writes in the first person but he is finding the need to socially distance himself and will therefore write in the third person - third minus first: there's your two meters social distancing right there.

Coronicles are COVID-related stories that Art has heard or read and that he thinks are worth repeating.

The Civil Disobedience Stories

The Quebec government has passed legislation giving it emergency powers. These powers are described in the Public Health Act but there's also a clause that gives the government the power to take any additional measures it considers necessary. So yes, the government can send police into our homes to look for illegally present adult children or possibly friends with benefits in our beds.

But not to worry, Quebeckers don't take kindly to government overreach. Even during the first lockdown, there were people inviting friends over for a socially distant drink in the back garden. And during the second wave, some Hudsonites still have small gatherings going on; either that or some households on Main Road suddenly own five cars. It can't have hurt because Hudson still has very few new cases.

Art thinks civil disobedience happens when governments make rules that don't make sense. So we can't mingle with another household but businesses, even non-essential ones, can have employees from many households come together for work. And then there's the four days of Christmas, then two days, then none, meaning no gatherings over the holidays. We're not informed of the basis for these decisions. What would make sense is, "If your region has more than x cases per 1000 population, then…" Instead, it looks completely arbitrary and makes no sense.

The Culture Stories

Anything to do with culture has been hard hit. That's because culture is not considered essential. According to the government, you've got to be able to buy new socks at Walmart but your favourite meal and wine at a local restaurant followed by a play at Village Theatre is out of bounds. Yeah, Art wouldn't want to be walking around with holes in his socks either. Gotta get your priorities straight.

Theatres, both live and movie theatres, are closed. Movie theatres Art can understand - they were getting a bit icky with sticky floors, pop corn on the seats. When they re-open, Art is sure they'll be models of hygiene. Not sure how you do live theatre with distancing and masks. And would an audience come? But there is a vein of satire that can be mined once the pandemic is over. How about Hamlet in the pandemic - "To mask or not to mask, that is the question." Or maybe Village Theatre will produce a Covid panto. "They're six feet apart. No they're not. Yes they are!"

Mask Stories, Cont'd

Art has read a letter to the editor of a lady who was commenting on the inconsistent rules, even pre-lockdown number two. It was translated from the French, which explains the slightly stilted English.

"We go to a restaurant, there is the virus, we wear a mask," she wrote. "We sit down, the virus is gone, we take off the mask."

"The waiter comes, the virus is there, but only for him - he wears a mask," she wrote. We eat, there is no virus, we don't wear a mask."

"We go to the bathroom, the virus is there, we wear a mask. We sit back down, the virus is gone, we take off the mask. We leave, there is the virus, we put on our masks."

Exactly. Also, wearing a mask while walking in Jack Layton park with nobody else around strikes Art as a bit of overkill.

The Social Distancing Stories

So Art figures he'll be doing the third person thing for quite a while yet, sorry if he seems distant. Somebody told him it's not social distancing, it's physical distancing. Yeah, but language is a funny thing when inflammable and flammable mean the same thing. So Art will stick with social distancing for now, even if it means physical distancing.

Or try. Sometimes it doesn't work. What do you do when a large lady plants herself in the middle of the open space by the eggs at the IGA and, when you try to go by, she yells that you're not staying six feet away. Or there's the guy, maskless, who comes up to you in front of the post office, grabs your hand to shake it and yells in your face that he hasn't seen you in ages.

Some people like the new distancing. Art had a lady say, "I've never liked shaking hands with strangers - who knows where that hand has been recently." Others miss hugging family but are quite happy to go without the double kiss from acquaintances.

Yeah, "?a va bien aller." But even in Italy, where this rainbow slogan comes from, rainbows don't last for months. Maybe we should transition to a dark cloud with, "It could be worse." And yet, Art's been travelling a bit and people are adjusting. Small businesses and restaurants are trying to make the best of things. Art ate lunch in a place that had put up a small tent, without sides, and had a propane heater installed. It was cozy.

Speaking of Cozy, local restaurants such as Cozy Café have stayed in business so far by doing takeout and delivery. Good deals too - $19.00 for a roast beef Sunday dinner from Stuart LeBaron on Main Road. And he just did Salmon Wellington.

Of course, just as some restaurants got going with outside terrace operations, we're in red-zone shutdown. Art can just see himself in a ski mask brushing off the snow from the tables to have lunch outside Juniper Café on Cameron. Or up the road at the newly opened place in the Cunningham building.

The Quebec health minister says this is going to be the new normal for a while. She says we have to learn to live with the virus. But then for the virus, we're just a means to an end. It might mutate to be more benign because then it can survive longer. Kind of like the planet earth has a bad case of humans. With any luck we'll change so we can survive longer.