Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 23, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 23, 2020

Ian Haysom, a veteran journalist and writer, is a news consultant for CHEK. His coronavirus diary will appear here regularly.

The best line I heard yesterday was: Better Six Feet Apart than Six Feet Under.

The best line today was: Eat lots of garlic. It won’t help with coronavirus but it will make people stay away from you.

That line came from an online discussion members of SISKA, the South Island Sea Kayaking Association (of which I am a member) had about group paddles. Every Wednesday, as many as 20 paddlers, most of them retired, go on day trips around the south Island.

The trips are spectacular, since the waters on southern Vancouver Island are among the best on the planet, and the paddlers are a hardy and healthy bunch, heading out in their dry suits even on frigid days in the middle of winter.

But should they be going now? Some wanted to, but the vast majority decided even kayaking en masse – and particularly launching on a crowded beach — was not a good idea. Even if they tried their best to keep apart from each other.

Keeping fit and healthy at a time of physical distancing is tough to do. If this thing goes on too long and we’re stuck indoors, we’ll all end up a bunch of binge-eating, binge-watching blobs.

My wife and I did kayak on the weekend, in the Saanich Inlet from Moses Point to Coles Bay. We were alone and at times seemingly a million light-years away from the rest of the world. It was my first kayak of the year, being a fair-weather paddler, and after an hour or so of paddling my back hurt, my shoulders ached, and I had heartburn. My wife, who kayaks in snowstorms, said it would be good for me. Ha!

I was reassured today to hear federal and provincial health officials say it was OK to go outside for walks, runs or bike rides as long as we obeyed the rules of physical distancing. And it was good to see that in Britain today, , though they announced a lockdown, they still permitted and encourage biking and walking

I have enjoyed biking most days on the quiet backroads of the Saanich Peninsula, keeping a huge distance from anyone walking or biking near me. In France, Italy and Spain they have banned biking altogether, mostly because they don’t want people having accidents and clogging up valuable hospital beds.

I am a careful, slow biker and dress for safety, with a helmet and a bright orange jacket that makes me look like a pumpkin on a bike but can be seen from the moon.

I had been planning a trip this May riding a bike from Victoria to San Francisco. I am not the greatest biker on the planet, or indeed the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’d done my research and figured if I rode slowly and steadily, despite my dodgy left knee, I’d make it in a month. My family guessed a year and suggested an e-bike, but I pointed out I’d looked at a map of North America and it looked like it was all going to be downhill. Knife. Drawer. I know.

Anyway, no trip this May. I will postpone a year. But no group biking either. I did see a bunch of those gung-ho Spandex-clad bikers on the peninsula this weekend, riding shoulder to shoulder. Too fast, I yelled. Too close. But they’d already zoomed by me, outrunning the virus they hoped.

I played nine holes of golf at Cordova Bay early last week, and kept impressive social distancing mostly because I hit most of my shots into trees, ponds and impenetrable bushes and well away from the fairways. Again I stopped doing that too, before — yesterday — they closed the course temporarily. I will now practice putting in my family room.

Gyms and yoga studios and pools are closed now,  but I had already abandoned my sessions at the gym at the Panorama Rec centre a few weeks ago. Most of the others working out or pumping iron at the gym wiped off their machines, bikes or treadmills with disinfectant spray after they use them.

But I saw a few would-be Schwarzeneggers (they fit that famous Clive James description of Arnold as a condom stuffed with walnuts) huff and puff and sweat on an exercise machine and then strut away without wiping down anything, except their glistening muscles with their loving fingertips.

I could, I guess, work out at home. But the couch keeps getting in the way. So I need to get outdoors, as long as we’re allowed.

But no sitting on the beach, as they did in Vancouver this weekend, cheek-by-jowl, advertising their invincibility and stupidity.

Even the prime minister got tough yesterday. Enough is enough. Go home and stay home, he said.

Or else, he added. We’ll make you.

I’ll exercise in the fresh air —responsibly ºwhile I still can. If the yahoos continue to spoil it for us, I have a hunch we might all be under house arrest soon.

Read the other Coronavirus Diaries here

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 18, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 19, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 20, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 22, 2020


Ian HaysomIan Haysom

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