Bridgwater Forest community correspondent
Debbie Ristimaki is a community correspondent for Bridgwater Forest.
Recent articles of Debbie Ristimaki
I am tired of all of the angry people. I am tired of lining up. I am tired of having to adjust my expectations of what I can find when shopping. I am tired of having to think twice before gathering with others and yes, I am tired of having to wear a mask. And did I mention that I am tired of hearing the word ‘COVID’?
That said, I also fear that this is becoming our new normal. We are entering the post -pocalyptic world where masks are de rigueur and are considered a form of self expression and having a swab shoved up your nose is no different to brushing your teeth everyday. OK, I admit that I may be exaggerating, but you have to admit that there are times when it feels like we are playing out a movie scene.
But, is there a silver lining in all of this?
Of course, there is.
It is 5 a.m. on a June workday. I am sitting outside enjoying my coffee, waiting for the sun to rise which will be at 5:19 this morning. I can hear a few cars, a crow doing its thing in the distance, and little else.
I have always found this to be the best time of the day. I can gather my thoughts, watch and listen as the world around me awakens.
As the sun slowly rises above the distant roofs, it is as if it is a signal goes out to all of the other local birds saying, “time to get up and out” and get up they do, Funny enough, the humans in the area also seem to heed the call, as the higher volume of cars on the roads suggests.
Interestingly, it has not always been that way which, is to be expected. The neighbourhood has grown considerably since we made Bridgwater Forest home in 2013. With that growth comes change and we have seen plenty of it. From the number of new families moving into the area to a reduction in the gull population.
As you enter Bridgwater from the north, you are welcomed by the tall structure sitting between the north and southbound lanes of Kenaston Boulevard. I am not sure of the correct term for it but it is impressive and very hard to miss.
Not so impressive are the spruce trees that frame it. They appear unloved and uncared for. In my view, they look dead and ready to be removed. What makes them interesting is the fact that they are not the original trees, which met the same fate a few years ago.
Take a drive around Bridgwater Forest and look at the trees along the roads. How many have been damaged during snow clearing operations, hit by vehicles or are simply struggling?
Then, take a walk through the forest, how many have died? Appear to be dying?
A couple of years ago, on a road trip to Banff, we passed a bright red building sitting in a beautiful field of canola in peak colour.
My camera was ready but we opted not to stop, thinking we would do so on the return trip. Needless to say, it didn’t happen as the yellow of the canola had already begun to fade by the time we passed it again.
Twice now we have driven by Kakabeka Falls in Ontario’s Kakabeka Provincial Park, just west of Thunder Bay. And yes, each time, I wanted to stop but, for one reason or another, we didn’t.
I had always said that I wanted to go to France for my 50th birthday. I wanted to see Paris and stand at the foot of the Eiffel Tower but, not actually go up, as I am not a fan of heights. I wanted to explore the countryside, enjoy a coffee and croissant on a terrasse and simply take in the world around me.
As we bring in the new year, I have no promises to make nor resolutions to break. What I do have is a list of wishes for the community.
Bridgwater grew by leaps and bounds in 2020 and not just population-wise. I mean its community spirit. I have never seen so many people out and about — it has been wonderful. They are spending time outside — from walking the trails to connecting on the ice, masks and all. And they have been supportive of both each other and local businesses.
At the other end of the spectrum sit safety and driving.
With the above in mind, here are a few items currently on my 2021 list. I wish:
My inbox is drowning with promotional emails and both my Facebook and Instagram accounts are not too far behind. Retailers far and wide are throwing everything they have at me and I have no one to blame but myself.
And what nefarious deed(s) did I do to deserve this?
Well, I have spent a good part of 2020 window-shopping, COVID-style. I have never claimed to be much of an online shopper, but that definitely changed this year. We did some renovations in the house and needed to replace some fixtures and furniture and, as we all know, in-person shopping was not nor is not currently encouraged — so we went online.
We looked for inspiration from retailers both here in Winnipeg and beyond. We browsed and yes, we bought which, admittedly, was much too easy. I think that I could get used to it and having the parcels dropped at our door was a bonus.
You don’t know how good you’ve got it until it’s gone. We take so much for granted and sadly it has taken a global pandemic to be reminded of that fact.
We have always had that ‘get up and go’ kind of approach to life. From travel to exploring our local community to shopping and dining out — all of which came to a screeching halt earlier this year.
Like most things, I do believe that this, too, shall pass. It is only a question of when, so until then we continue to adapt.
That doesn’t mean that we haven’t been able to explore the outdoors and the province itself through day trips. Granted, early on during the pandemic we had to consider distances and whether there would be washroom facilities available to the public but, that is not the case today.
I know it is August and the temperature still sits in the 30 C range but I am dreaming of winter.
Well, perhaps I should I say that we are planning for a COVID-19 winter.
No, I am not a pessimist but if our experience so far this year is any indication, we need to be better prepared. We learned some lessons early on about what items we should always have on hand at home and more importantly, how and where to shop.
If truth be told, I didn’t even have the tap feature enabled on my debit card. This was reminiscent of what I called the ‘Harry Potter phenomenon’ — anybody and everybody seemed to have read those books when they first came out, except me. That was exactly how I felt with my debit card — everybody had ‘tap’ but me.