We are snowbirds who escape the frigidity of Canada’s winters by going to Florida. This year our Florida migration was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The news media in the US is a strange beast, focussing reports more on local news rather than the nation. Worse, international news gets cursory coverage. Even worse, Canadian news gets no mention in almost any newscast. Our only contact with home was listening to streaming radio of a local radio station in Toronto via one of our digital devices.
Once the COVID-19 story broke big time, the Florida media was an inferior source of information. However, by mid-March our united jigsaw news reporting pieces indicated that the situation was becoming very serious, so much so that we decided to return home was our best recourse. The clincher was PM Trudeau calling home Canadians from around the world. That was us.
Escape from the USA
We left Florida before dawn, Sunday, Mar. 22 amid increasingly stressful rumours such as the National Guard were closing down interstate routes and city lockdown in southern Florida were imminent. The previous day, southwest Florida closed down all beaches. It was the signal to leave.
The journey home was an anxious one because traffic patterns fluctuated very noticeably, sometimes much congestion, then very little traffic where there should have been a lot. Restaurants, fast-food eateries, all were closing dine-in facilities, restricting patrons to take-out only. We had foreseen food difficulties and brought prepared foods with us so we could stay inside our hotel rooms.
Fear and stress increased with each mile. We learned the Canadian-American border was closed long before we would be arriving. However, Canadian residents would be permitted entry. Our return to Canada couldn’t be soon enough.
Re-entry into Canada
The customs officer asked the usual border crossing questions but after our declaration query, he warned that auto travel could have problems, gas station closures, rest stop restaurant closures. His solution to restroom needs was to revert to nature, side of the road. Then he wished us well with final warning of ‘home quarantine for 14 days’ upon return.
We arrived home safely and began our home quarantine. Fortunately, our food larder had been restocked for us by family members.
The novelty of staying home was welcome for the first few days. It meant we could do things that needed doing around the house which had been avoided before. We launched into them…a kind of forced spring cleaning. But welcomed as things needed to be done.
However, daily newscasts were becoming increasingly stressful. The media seemed to be working on sensationalism begets ratings, regardless of audience anxieties. Finding constructive, the positive news is a near fruitless endeavour.
Our current status
We are prisoners within our own home, a gilded cage. The worst seems to be Fermo seeming to be despondent or depressed where his twice-daily walks have been completely disappeared. Back yard runs can’t compare to long walks through neighbourhoods, something we did in Florida twice a day and we did here back home before when life was normal.
Anxiety and stress
Anxiety levels are high and increase with each newscast we hear. We now have rationed our news listening to twice a day only, morning and night. Evenings are TV watching with our program selections leaning to comedy and light entertainment.
Hobbies, pastimes, personal endeavours
The silver lining to our situation is that we can devote more time to our hobbies and interests. The writing itch can now be scratched much more with decreased feelings of guilt; the urge to paint, sketch and draw can also be guiltless as we have more ‘forced indoor time.’
Health and quarantine
The quarantine restriction is intended to confirm that we are virus-free. The virus incubation period is 14 days, after which we still must practice extreme and careful precautions to minimize risks: frequent and serious hand washing, social distancing with total isolation preferred. We are at Day 13 and monitoring.
Stay tuned to watch our situational developments.