By Alison Bate

The little things that have helped during the last 15 months:

1. Learning how to deal with slugs.  My sister Gill lives on a small island and was planning her day. First thing up, throwing any slugs in the garden over the deer fence. “I’m not sure the same ones don’t keep coming back,” she admitted. But what are the alternatives? Our parents used slug pellets (harmful to the environment) and a friend of hers cuts them in two with scissors (gruesome)

2. Tasty muffins. After coffee shops closed during last year’s lockdown, I started buying my own coffee and muffins. Current favorites: raspberry oatmeal muffins from Whole Foods (pictured at top) and roasted strawberry ones from Elysian.

3.  John Prine and Iris Dement. When John Prine died of Covid complications in April 2020, I started binging on his music and duets with Iris Dement. My current favorite is this tribute cover of his last recorded song: “I Remember Everything“. 

4. Graham Norton on YouTube.  This British comedy chat show is a welcome antidote to depressing pandemic news and lockdowns (Thanks for the tip, Janet)

5. The communal rooftop. It took Covid for me to discover the strata’s rooftop, with its views of downtown Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains. Last year I met five of my neighbors up there regularly for 7 p.m. pot-banging. We don’t do that any more, but it’s still a lovely place for a slug of wine or Corona on summer evenings.

6. Appearing sideways on Jitsi during online meetings of Just Write. No idea why.

7. Counting containerships. In another life, I edited shipping magazines and still check out all the ships at the Port of Vancouver. Containerships typically go straight to a berth, so whenever they’re kept waiting at anchor, it means the supply chain is seriously out-of-whack. Last month, I counted five one day.

Containerships waiting for a berth in English Bay, Vancouver, Canada in May 2021

8. New bike routes. I’ve been biking round False Creek and Stanley Park at least once/week during Covid but also discovered new ones, such as the forested Seymour Valley Trail in North Vancouver.

9. Silly Covid graphs. How we “cattened the curve” in B.C.(below) is a favorite, drawn by Amanda Wong (@amandawtwong). Yesterday, we were down to the cat’s left cheek, with just 44 new cases a day in B.C. And today, July 1,  the province’s Covid state of emergency finally ends after 470 days. Fingers crossed there’s no fourth wave.

Illustration B.C.'s third Cover wave
Amanda Wong’s meme of B.C.’s third Covid wave

10. But now we have a disastrous heat wave and forest fires here on Canada’s West Coast, with temperatures up to 39C in Vancouver and 49.6C in Lytton in the Interior. Time to find some more distractions over things I cannot control, I guess.