BOS 03 10 2021 doublesize
I miss waiting in line at the grocery store. I have no idea what gossip the tabloids are proclaiming. I don't know what common opinions are being discussed by the people who live in my community. I know what my friends are talking about, but I like to know what others are thinking.

I don't miss choosing the line that goes incredibly slowly. When deciding which cashier to wait for, I glance along, looking for the shortest line, calculating how fast each is likely to be. When I miscalculate because some item has to be replaced, I fidget, even though I know how much I appreciate the help when the bag of flour I chose has a leak.

Waiting is not something I am good at. Getting my car repaired, I ask how long it will be, add a bit, and figure out how to spend that much time. I bring a book, sometimes my computer, something to fill the time of waiting. When the repair stretches beyond the time allotted, I again fidget. I finish the book. I have caught up on the work I can do. I am anxious to get on with my day.

Sitting on hold with a call centre, I'm not too impatient. There is usually something I can do while I listen to the droning music and the mechanical voice repeating, "Your call is important to us."

As the temperatures rise this week, I am getting anxious to get dirt under my fingernails. While the blanket of snow is solid, covering all the gardens and lawns and walkways, I can enjoy winter. But once the snow starts to go, I think about tulips and how the garlic plants are doing. I start to look for weeds to pull. The last doses of winter spark impatience in me, because at this point, I am ready for spring.

These days, my husband is waiting for news about when he will get the Covid-19 vaccine. At eighty-five, he is in a priority category. Because our doctor is in Simcoe County, he is not yet on the list. So, we are waiting for the local 800 number and the provincial booking system. But besides checking the websites regularly for updates, all we can do is wait for March fifteenth when those systems will be up and running. I have that day marked for waiting on the phone.

We are not the only ones waiting for a vaccine, but I worry about our focus on waiting.

Listening to Rosemary Barton's interview with Dr. Theresa Tam, the questions that I hear other people asking were repeated. "When will Canadians get vaccinated? When can we do away with face masks and social distancing? When will the restrictions not be needed?" Dr Tam's answer was not very satisfying:  with four approved vaccines, we can be hopeful. We are going to prevent serious illness and difficult outcomes. She did not say we can get back to normal or move on to a new normal.

She mentioned new variants and the possibilities for complications they bring. Children are not yet being vaccinated and until they are, the virus will be active. And the rollout in the global south is slow with wealthier countries, including our own, hogging vaccine supplies. "We won't be safe until everyone is safe," I have heard experts say. It's a thought we need to absorb. And act on.

But we also need to be acting now on the things that we hope to be creating and building in the next few years. Just waiting for Covid to be over ignores the things we have learned in the last year. Yes, I am looking forward to having dinner with neighbours and family visits. But in the meantime, I am enjoying workshops with people who live in far-flung places. I am attending talks I would not have been able to travel to a year ago.

So yes, I am looking forward to getting the vaccine and being with people whom I have only zoomed with. But in the meantime, I am trying not to just fidget. I hope I am thinking about, and building toward, what we will build when we've all had that shot in the arm.

Cathy Hird lives on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway