There is always a tinge of sadness when Labour Day comes around on the calendar.
The holiday weekend marks the end of one of the last flings of the summer. The colour showing on some of the trees and the light fading too soon in the evening, the cooler temperatures, even hints of frost to come … yes summer is indeed just about done. The boat trailers and packed cars heading south Labour Day weekend, a reverse of the parade north in May, provide more signals of summer’s end. Those who haven’t closed up their cottages, know that the next visits will require sweaters and windbreakers with the bathing suit folded and tucked away for another year.
It was a summer in which the extra layer of concern brought on by COVID-19 made things a little trickier for everyone. While cottages provided ideal hide-aways, places to avoid the crowded cities, gatherings in town or with neighbours were tentative and reserved. Masks were de rigueur as shoppers lined up outside stores, for the most part, six feet separating one patient customer from the next, waiting for the nod from the door monitor, grabbing a freshly wiped cart and following the arrows. Restaurants pushed their service out of doors, commandeering the fresh air, while inside, tables carefully distanced, offered another option when the weather was not conducive to alfresco dining.
Municipal council sessions, church services, family get-togethers and all manner of meetings moved on-line, with Zoom taking on a whole new meaning … and it appears those sorts of gatherings are destined to remain in that format for some time to come.
Missing from the summer scene: just about every activity and event that makes this a vibrant community. Without live theatre, opera, festivals, agricultural fairs, and outdoor events predicated on a large gathering, the vibe in the community wasn’t quite the same. Attempts to bridge the gap with drive and boat-in events had some appeal, but fell short of the full-blown events. Children of the internet age were able to discover, with their parents, the magic of movies on a big outdoor screen while curled up with their family in cars. The artists of our community continue to be productive and present their work individually or as part of weekend tours.
Labour Day also heralds a return to classes for students of all ages. New beginnings and exciting challenges await them and their parents this year, as they juggle the staggered opening schedule, many new rules and wrestling with the decision to go back to a classroom or continue with at home, on-line education. There appear to be no easy answers.
As summer fades into the most colourful season of the year, there is another tinge of worry in the air. So far, we have confronted this pandemic during a period of hospitable weather. With the arrival of winter, the social distancing and restrictions of large gatherings will increase the isolation that many have found emotionally draining even in good weather. Reaching out to neighbours and friends, looking for opportunities and contacts now, will help ease the burden we will all feel as the fight continues through the coming winter. We have come this far and can find common cause as we forge ahead together