A couple weeks back “Social Distancing” would’ve been a Big Thinker’s title in The Times, about the Downside Of Facebook. Now it’s a best practice if you care about flattening the COVID-19 curve and saving grandmothers. I’m a believer; recently I tweeted Cancel Everything and I meant it. But this shouldn’t mean that you can’t go outside; or shop; or photograph.

Today we went to the Riley Park Winter Farmers Market, eleven blocks away in cold spring sun.

At the Riley Park Farmers Market

It’s way less crowded than the supermarket.
Damn it was cold, 5°C at best. But I bought beets.

Plague Advice · Find a way to support your local merchants to the extent you can while staying safe. Don’t be the one who who didn’t know what you’d got till it was gone.

Here in BC we’re not in hard-lockdown where you have to stay inside and order your food. I and many others here put a lot of weight on words from our Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (no Twitter of her own but she has a fan club). As of this writing, she says that for now, it’s OK to shop for food and basics, to eat out, and especially to do things that are outside. Farmers markets offer two out of three.

Just because that’s OK for us doesn’t mean it’s OK for you. BC seems to have got lucky with early containment; it helps that anybody with Those Symptoms can have a COVID-19 test for the asking.

I suppose the containment will break down at some point and Dr Henry will bring the hard-lockdown hammer. Because she knows her shit and speaks the truth, she’ll bring the populace along with her.


Bonnie Henry

How has Knowing One’s Shit and Speaking Truth become, so often, anything but the default expected behavior?

Plague Advice · Wherever you are, find your local Dr Henry equivalent and just Do whatever the fuck they say.

Back to Farmers Markets. There’s more space between you and the staff and the other shoppers. The aisles are wider. There’s no door or doorhandle. No shared shopping carts. No sharing atmosphere in an enclosed space.

Now I see I did one thing wrong: I paid with cash. These days every greyhaired ponytailed organic-herbs vendor has (in Canada at least) a little goober you can wave your credit card or phone at; no touching required. Cash is a notorious germ vector at the best of times, which these really totally aren’t.

Plague Advice · After you’ve been to the market, don’t touch your face till you get home, then wash the hell out of your hands. Where by “the market” I mean anywhere.

At the market there was a stringband, and also a dude in a wheelchair with an N95 facemask and electric guitar, soaring chords with snarly echo. I left donations in both their open instrument cases; I hope they were careful to wash their hands after handling the cash.

At the Riley Park Farmers Market

Plague Advice · Support performing artists. Because performances aren’t safe so performers don’t get paid. I have tickets to see Martin Barre, the Cowboy Junkies, and Billie Eilish; none of those performances will happen and I’m not asking for my money back. Go visit the Web sites of the musicians you like and find out how they sell music and merch and buy some already.

When I read the stories about the hard-lockdown locales, the policy seems to include no going outside. Sure, don’t enter crowded spaces, including public transit. And don’t crawl malls. But if there’s a green space you can walk to and it’s big enough that people can maintain a respectful distance, I don’t see the downside.

The upside is you’ll stay saner.

Plague Advice · Go (carefully) outside!


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: John Cowan (Mar 15 2020, at 11:57)

Note that even in hard lockdown not *everyone* can stay home and order out: in particular, someone has to deliver those orders. As a result of (unconscious) othering, people who deliver somehow never get mentioned.


From: Rob (Mar 18 2020, at 17:48)

I dunno, I am in effect at least partly a delivery driver here in Calgary, delivering medications and health info. Its no biggie really, maintaining my distance whilst handing things over. And I got OR grade disinfectants in back in my car for post drop off wipedowns.

I tell you, its eerie driving around the city. It feels like half the traffic is cops and Fedex/Purolator/UPS. And for all I know alot of the civilian cars are people like me, working. The cops are pretty busy too, there are a lot of a-holes who see the usually congested main drags open up and feel that speeding is in order. But it is very weird, especially downtown, feels like a scifi disaster movie or something.

I also note that the City is taking the opportunity to get a little extra road work done in needy usually high traffic spots.


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