Preparing to Hibernate

I’ve been taking advantage of the last nice days of fall, and of my raging metabolism, which has turned me into a sweaty monster who prefers much-lower temperatures than I’m generally able to stand, by spending as much time as I possibly can outside, most of it (socially distanced from other customers) on the patio of a local coffee shop half a block from my apartment. As of last Friday, it was still warm enough to pretty comfortably occupy a table there for over an hour. There was a temperature drop from Friday to Saturday, however, and though I haven’t stopped going for a daily espresso-based beverage yet, I have stopped enjoying what’s become an exercise in sticking it to the … virus? Indeed, as I sit shivering, stubbornly refusing to leave until I’ve finished my drink and a few chapters of a novel I didn’t really care about to begin with, my mind keeps drifting to the snow that’ll soon be piled up on the sides of the streets. Oh, Canada.

Oh, COVID-19.

Admitting defeat and going home.

It seems important to stretch out these final (and now a little unpleasant) patio experiences because I’m all too aware that pandemic-imposed limitations will make this winter one in which opportunities to safely leave my apartment will be few and far between. Most years, I maximize autumn for “I have to enjoy the sunshine before I can’t go out without my skin turning weird colours” reasons but don’t make more than a passing effort to do so since it’s not as if I’ll be holed up all winter. Yes, the cold months here are long and, well, cold, but there are nonetheless places to go, things to do, and people to see beyond the confines of one’s living space, the grocery store, and the pharmacy. I don’t have to tell you, or myself, that this year isn’t most years. Anticipating what’s to come, I feel extra desperate to hoard outdoor hours like the dwindling commodity that they are.

I’ll acknowledge that the fact that I wasn’t able to set foot in the out-of-hospital world from mid-December to mid-September is influencing my attitude about the approaching season of hibernation. I am, after all, still eager to do all the “real” stuff I missed, only the “real” world into which I was released is an ersatz version of the one I left behind. Most of my go-to escape-the-apartment activities won’t be possible this winter due to the coronavirus, and, to add insult to injury, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that we aren’t going to just skip over the cold weather as I apparently convinced myself we would.

Here’s where I’m supposed to put a positive spin on this. I guess I’ll try.

First, I’m mostly keeping perspective, much as it might seem otherwise. Second, I’m doing what I can to make this situation as tolerable as it can be.

Most important, in this regard, has been settling into a comfortable and sustainable routine. Since I got home, I’ve been working on developing and following what I call a “default schedule.” Regular readers and people I know IRL likely don’t need to be reminded that I like to keep everything as predictable as humanly possible—reduce the variables!—so having a routine I can count on because I developed it is a strategy that’s been working pretty well for me, and I think it’ll be crucial once winter sets in. Yay for making and sticking to arbitrary timetables and for setting and achieving self-assigned goals!

My husband and I have also recently increased our efforts to fine-tune the routine we share before we’re even more stuck inside together. I’ve beat him at Boggle three nights in a row, so we’re evidently seeing some success.

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