By Chad Ingram
It came with a sense of déjà vu, the surreal feeling of a dream, fragments of familiarity.
I’m talking about sitting on a restaurant patio, something I did during the weekend, and I’m sure a number of you reading this did as well.
Felt good, didn’t it?
After more than two months of being closed for all but take-out and delivery, Ontario eateries were able to open their patios for outdoor dining last Friday, something that business owners and patrons were obviously very hungry for.
The patio I patronized was not in the county, but all the way in Bobcaygeon. That’s right, I sat on a restaurant patio and travelled to a neighbouring municipality. That’s a barnburner of a weekend in 2021.
We got to wait in line for a table, something I was frankly thrilled to do. We got to look at menus, and experience the novelty and luxury of having food brought to us by other human beings. We didn’t have to cook, or clean up, or anything.
With more and more Ontarians receiving second vaccinations and gathering limits increasing amid rolled back COVID-19 regulations, reunions are taking place throughout the province. Friends and family members who in some cases have not seen each other for 16 months or more are once again getting together. Re-establishing those connections that have been so desperately missed is of course vital to everyone’s mental and emotional health.
But there is also much to be said for the random, mundane and casual encounters of the every day that we have largely been deprived of during the pandemic. Banter with a waiter. A middle-aged woman approaching our table to comment on how well-behaved our youngest daughter is (I’m not just saying that), and then telling us about her own five grandchildren (who are apparently less good at sitting still).
The clinking of glasses. The hum of other people’s conversations. A soccer game on the televisions. The wafting smell of someone’s cigar. Motorcycles ripping outrageously loud down the main drag. The cacophony of life all around.
If there are silver linings to come out of the nightmare of the past 16 months, then one of them, at least for me, is an enhanced ability to practise gratitude. Gratitude for the little things, gratitude for the once completely normal things. Calamari and a beer under an umbrella of a restaurant patio.
How amazing is that?