There is no place like home, goes the cliché which is certainly true for the Sunshine Coast. We’re very lucky to live here in paradise by the sea. I haven’t been to the city, Vancouver, in over three months and don’t see any reason to go. Life is good here and the sun is shining right now. Summer is finally here and people are out camping, swimming, hiking and biking. But we don’t see any tour buses or Germans driving around in RV’s, no Americans filling up the pubs, no Chinese clusters looking for the washrooms. It’s eerily quiet which suits us locals just fine. How long will this go on? Predictions say at least another year, maybe longer.
I found Camp sitting at our table, separated by a plexi glass barrier from the next table. He was thumbing through the Worldometer which highlighted the dismal US numbers of new covid cases and deaths.
Our corner table was nicely separated by plexiglass and potted plants. I kind of liked the private atmosphere this created.
‘Maybe we should all believe in reincarnation. If we did, then we would be more concerned about the long-term future than we are. I’m thinking about the environment: ocean acidification, temperature increases, garbage; all of that would matter a lot more if we were destined to come back,’ I said to Camp who was quaffing his first pint.
‘What’s bugging you now, he asked.
It’s finally summer here on the Sunshine Coast. Rich man’s weather with no bugs, I like to describe it. But it’s quiet, no tourists, no festivals, no fireworks. In a way it’s kind of nice but it seems like the calm before the storm. Vicky set down two fresh pints and said: ‘Today you two need to focus on the beauty and goodness all around you. No doom and gloom and no Trump.’ We both looked at her speechless. ‘Just kidding,’ she said with a smile.
We raised our glasses and toasted to the beauty and the goodness and then Camp said, running his hand through his unruly shock of grey curls. ‘We have to admit that we’re not going to get out of this pandemic as we thought just a few months ago. Now it seems that the so called second wave is just a continuation of the first wave, trending upwards in lockstep with uncoordinated re-opening policies.’
I walked to the pub along the shore at low tide and thought about what Clare just told me. She is working virtually and is zoomed out. ‘I feel a bit lonely, a bit sad and a bit awkward, maybe even a bit depressed.’
‘It’s called zoom fatigue,’ I said. ‘People cannot function in two dimensions and not everybody is an actor or looks good on camera. Also, people present a persona which is switched on and you cannot get the human connection that face to face meetings and body language’ provide. We are not screen images.’ I told Camp about it and he agreed. ‘I don’t do zoom,’ he said, ‘either come and see me or I’ll wait until this is over. I’m not talking into a computer like I’m doing a commercial of myself. Not gonna happen.’
‘Let’s say that one percent of the North American population – US, Mexico, Canada – has been infected with the Covid-19 virus – many of them unknowingly. That’s about 5 million people, almost double the official number of 3.2 million. That leaves 99 percent of the population untouched but still vulnerable.’