It’s Groundhog Day as I write this and in the real-world sense of this odd North American tradition, Wiarton Willie has surely seen his shadow this sunny morn and an early spring is thereby anticipated.
More often these days, any mention of Groundhog Day references the iconic 1993 movie in which the protagonist, played by Bill Murray, lives the same day over and over. Many find parallels in the sameness of lockdown days, as we live through the first global pandemic in generations.
In the movie, Murray finally figures out what’s going on and rather than repeat the same futile activities, spends his recurrent days learning French, mastering the piano and generally working toward becoming a better person.
In the end, the re-made Murray becomes worthy, gets the girl and breaks out of his loop, able to resume his life, presumably minus the selfish approach the movie suggests led to him being sidetracked in the first place.
Similarly, there’s plenty of stories of people using their pandemic “Groundhog” days to create art, deep clean or renovate their abode and generally getting done things they never had time for before. Even for the vast majority, who continue to work through the pandemic, lockdown life leaves more hours to fill in the evenings and on weekends, when our usual leisure and community activities are shuttered. You can only stream so much TV (although if you have the time and access to Prime, I recommend Palm Springs, a sort of updated take on Groundhog Day that’s pretty funny in its own right).
An early spring, if it actually arrives (I have my doubts about the science behind rodent-based weather prognostication), could well portend good things beyond sunshine and snowmelt.
Last spring showed we have a better chance of reducing the spread of COVID-19 when people spend less time indoors, as they are wont do to when it’s cold outside.
The warmer weather will also bring a temptation to open up our institutions and relax restrictions in other areas. While that’s a great idea from both an economic and mental health perspective, hopefully our governmental arbiters of what’s allowable learned something from last spring and summer, when time that should have been spent preparing for the widely predicted second wave was largely squandered, leaving us with the current stay-at-home state of affairs.
Hopefully as things are opened up this time, measures such as rapid-testing regimes and contact tracing are employed at scale, along with careful control on gathering sizes (maybe the province could spend some of its COVID war chest funds on at last reducing school class sizes where in-person learning is in play) in order to avoid a repeat of last fall, when case numbers ramped up and everything else was locked down.
Deflating talk of a “third wave” is now beginning to make its way into the media lexicon.
Groundhog Day all over again? No thanks.