Planting a bed of strawberries has been a pleasant side effect of pandemic conditions. Photo Andrea DeMeer

How has COVID changed your life?

Recently a friend put out a Facebook request, for others to share how they have been affected by, and are coping with, COVID-19. This is my response.

I’ve spent a lot less on gas, a lot more on books, and probably too much on vodka.

I am warmed by the giving and fortitude around me, also distressed by apparent greed and selfishness.

Even with relaxed restrictions, there is a grimness settling. Just the visuals contribute; the screens, the masks, the signs.

They conjure apocalyptic terrors. Sometimes I want to close my eyes.

However, I planted strawberries and some lovely herbs, and just picked up some tomato plants. They make me smile.

It’s been a very long time since I grew anything except body hair.

March was endured only by binging Outlander on Netflix. (Highly recommend this series.)

Initially, the stay-at-home orders caused some friction in the home.

That’s understandable.

Pile the stress on top of proximity, with no opportunity to escape, and problems are all but inevitable.

Ordinarily, I rely on coffee dates, breakfasts and dinner parties with friends to meet many of my social needs.

The situation came to a head one evening in April.

Mr. DeMeer criticized the way I was washing the dishes, instructing me in a more efficient protocol.

Fifteen minutes later he escalated the conflict by telling me to “calm down.”

It was clear if we didn’t get together on common courtesy and basic parts of the day, neither one of us would survive the pandemic.

Because really, we are all in this together. Surely someone has already said that, once.

As a couple we decided to be kind. That rings a bell too.

I miss and worry about our daughter living in Vietnam, every day. But that was normal before COVID.

It’s an exciting time to be a reporter, and also a tiring one. My New Year’s resolution for 2021 is going to be to never use the words “unprecedented,” “uncertain,” or “trying” in print again.

It’s also frustrating. While journalists are essential service providers, we often suffer criticism for our efforts.

You are covering COVID too much. You are not covering COVID enough.

You are covering COVID the wrong way. The panic — and apparently everything else that has gone sideways in the last century — is the fault of the ‘left-wing liberal media.’

This negativity is countered by the little gifts left on my front step…bottles of wine, flowers, even spring onions…and the occasional appreciative Facebook message.

Twice in the past week, I’ve had occasion to visit the emergency department at Princeton General Hospital.

COVID-19 precautions were much in evidence, but every effort was made to make me feel comfortable, and to reduce my anxiety.

Twice in the past four months I cried at Save-On- Foods. The first was on a Sunday morning — early on — when supplies were scarce. That day there were eggs, and milk, butter and flour.

I’d never been so glad to see a potato in my life, and the tears welled from joy and gratitude.

I will never take food for granted again.

The second time was the week my father died in Ontario, and there could be no funeral. Everything suddenly overwhelmed me, in the canned vegetable aisle.

Those grocery store workers, they may inspire me the most.

They are always there. They are almost always smiling.

But you can see the last four months on their faces.

They take more abuse than the media.

Several weeks ago, one particularly dear — and always helpful — cashier was actually assaulted with a package of toilet paper.

She remains dear, and always helpful.

So, there is hope for us all.

Andrea DeMeer is the publisher/editor of The Similkameen Spotlight in Princeton.

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