It snowed in Cedar Springs on May 11, 2020: an out-of-the-blue pandemic of sloppy whiteness, unprecedented for that time of year. COVID-snow, I muttered to myself, as I trod on my socially isolated feet past the beach.
Dare I step on the sand? The beach was closed. Yellow police-tape strangled the play equipment, proclaiming that this benevolent structure with it’s baby swing for bobble-heads, and yellow slide that only brief months ago was slick with kids, was now a devious hard-contact surface capable of plastering invisible viral killers across unsanitized hands.
The snow-birds were back. They had migrated home early to their nests in Cedar Springs, the entire flock panicked into flight by yucky TV images of a virus that looked (appropriately) like a golf-ball with red fungus. When I encountered them trudging the icy roads in Cedar Springs, we spoke over awkward two-meter chasms of the COVID chaos in the United States, and wasn’t it a relief that our borders were closed?
Soon after that, the rest of March and all of April and all of May were COVID-cancelled. My calendar for those months is slashed with black marks through Easter, Mother’s Day, tickets to see Hamilton, tickets for Disney ice shows, family birthdays, meetings and work-outs. Then we learned that summer was COVID-cancelled too: the Olympics, Stratford, the Sound of Music, Pride Parade, Caribana, the EX! Ottawa even cancelled Canada Day celebrations, offering instead, as pale replacements, two TV shows in “the comfort of our homes”.
Here at Cedar Springs summer events were also cancelled, including our first big bash—Canada Day. I love Canada Day in Cedar Springs; our first party of the season, it bounces the summer above our heads like a colourful beach-ball. We all flash red and white because we’re proud of our country—and even though we don’t go on about it, on this one day we happily shout our Canada-devotions from our tee-shirts. I love Canada Day in Cedar Springs for the way our glittering children scatter and flit, here and there, like the fireflies that likewise scatter and flit above the tall grass behind the hall; I love how the wine glasses catch both sunlight and smiles. And I love what is surely the most languid sunset of the year, the Creamsicle orange of the sun melting into streamers of colour across the creek, and doing so with a sun-god’s lofty disregard for the mere mortals who impatiently await the darkness and the fireworks and the sparklers.
I especially love the sparklers: the firecracker smell of them; the flaring pop when first lit; the way their light not only sparks but sizzles; the magical writing of fire-words in the air; and how you must be careful when holding them because sparklers, like all things magical, have an exciting barb of danger about them.
But, sadly, our Canada Day celebrations in Cedar Springs are cancelled this year, as well. I fortify my sighing spirits by telling myself: you cannot cancel summer. Springers, I say, we must be like the Whos in Whoville who woke up on Christmas morning to discover their presents and their decorations had been swiped by the Grinch. You know how the story ends: even though the rug had been pulled out from beneath their Christmas, the Whos found a way to celebrate—they joined hands and sung. Well, that’s exactly what we can not do this summer (any singing must be done with masks and hockey sticks between us) but I think that here in Cedar Springs, just as in Whoville, we’ll find ways to celebrate our summer. We can still wave, still chat, we can share a drink on a deck with ten-people-or-less in chairs that are two-meters-apart, we can ‘zoom’ the book club, we can play golf, pickle-ball and tennis, build sandcastles on the beach, and cool our socially isolated tootsies behind the waterfall—but mostly we can be thankful for the fact that our quick and precious Canadian summer will continue to flutter (as it always has) its ribbons of gold and green across the hills and forests, the quaint dirt roads, and the cottages of Cedar Springs.