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Do you remember ET and the phrase “ET go home”? That scene was so poignant. On Friday, once we’d seen the numbers projecting peak cases of COVID 19 in the US and Canada, and the general mathematical models for how epidemics like this unfold, we immediately started packing.

After two long days of driving, we’re back in Toronto. According to the Canadian government guidelines, we need to self-isolate for fourteen days – even though we have no symptoms – which means no direct contact with outsiders, and remaining almost exclusively in our condo. It’s a good thing our son was able to get groceries and cleaning supplies and body lotion for the hands that are constantly being washed!

We took food along with us on the drive, which we ate in order to avoid fast food establishments and the hotel’s free breakfast. We had disinfectant spray, paper towels, wet wipes, tissues, and hand soap in the car. I packed two pillow cases which we used on Sunday night instead of the ones provided by the hotel – even though they looked crisp and fresh. And when we arrived at the hotel, I sprayed and wiped down every surface before we settled in.

On Sunday, as we drove through Virginia – or it might have been West Virginia – we listened to Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister as he briefed Canadian citizens about travel restrictions and other government actions … the message was COME HOME! and DON’T LEAVE THE COUNTRY! at this time. Practice social distancing, be kind to your neighbours, offer to help, reach out to friends and family via email, Skype and other technologies.

Today, Ontario’s premier (I live in Toronto, Ontario) announced a state of emergency. Like other places around the world, Canadian provinces, cities and towns have put severe restrictions in place. And we don’t know how long this will last. Makes me think of how governments and citizens were forced to react during times like WWI and WWII.

While this goes on, I’ll continue to post articles for the latest series: Reflections on Writing Historical Fiction and I’ll expand on the seven elements of historical fiction as I began a few weeks ago. I hope these will offer a brief respite from today’s unprecedented times.

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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.