Spring has come finally, to Montreal. Birds are singing, especially in the morning. Buds are beginning to form on tree-branches. Ice and snow are retreating, leaving strange translucent blocks of ice here and there, and cool mud with that pungent smell of growing things.
With the current pandemic spreading, the Quebec government has issued a list of essential services, from healthcare to law enforcement, and grocery stores to construction and moving companies. Many services have been deemed non-essential.
We are encouraged to avoid non-essential travel, and stay at home as much as possible. Given a new federal government ruling, people who have just returned to Canada from abroad face huge fines and even six-month prison terms, if they do not rigorously respect the quarantine.
People like me, who have been here all along, are encouraged to go outside from time to time, and get some healthy exercise, alone, while maintaining a two-metre distance from other pedestrians.
I wonder about this, because it is not easy to strike a balance.
I never liked getting cabin fever. I am now looking for times of day and night, as well as places in Greater Montreal, where I am unlikely to run into anyone else. But in a city with 4 million fellow citizens, it takes fancy footwork to avoid contact.
One place to avoid is sidewalks undergoing repairs, since they are far narrower than before, and it is impossible to maintain a two-metre distance if the sidewalk has been lined with fencing.
Another place to avoid is line-ups of people in the street, whether they are waiting for government relief or their turn to enter a grocery store.
In general, I notice that pedestrians tend to walk on the sunny side of the street, not the shady side, and they prefer main streets to back streets.
But anyway … spring is now reaching us … hopefully the situation will improve.
PS: I took the photograph at the top of this blog next to Selby Brook in Frelighsburg. The photo shows a huge block of ice thrown up onto the stream bank by spring flooding, with sunlight creating weird effects as it passes through the ice, and rainwater dribbling down the sides.