Welcome to QWF series ‘Chronicling the Days’, specifically for this strange uneasy time of coronavirus and pandemic, of social distancing and self isolation, of lockdown and quarantine.
In April 2020, we invited writers in Quebec to submit a story – of a single day at this time, because while we’re all living through this time, we know that we’re not all living through it in the same way. To stay connected – to know how we’re getting on. Every story valid.
Submissions have now closed for the series but we’ll be continuing to publish the pieces throughout May. Keep an eye for them here, or join us on the QWF FB Community page, and let the authors know if their words resonated.
This piece is by Francesca M. LoDico, writing on April 26, 2020.
“I got my ducks,” says Lissa on the phone. “I’m their momma.”
Lissa used to live next door with Ginger, her wire haired dachshund. For five years we shared the neighbourly camaraderie of single creatives bound by solitude: our Before version of together alone.
Ginger, all perky ears and springy neck, was scrappy. She barked above her weight and was a conduit for Lissa’s own misadventures. The yip&yap of Lissa&Ginger were part of the soundtrack of my building, their escapades part of the lore of our little corner of Outremont.
Although Lissa&Ginger moved out last year, I have missed them most acutely during the pandemic. When Lissa emailed me last week about Photocopie Zoubris, a Mile End/Outremont hub on ave du Parc, it made me yearn for Demetra and Jimmy (Zoubris), for the community outside my window:
zoubris still closed mama mia [sic]………
do you think you could print these two pages.
love and hugs!
I’m a writer and I live alone. Isolation comes easy to me. But right now, the story of my day often hinges on these moments of connectivity over the phone.
The musicality in Lissa’s voice is punctuated by woofs and sotto voce quips. “My ducks! One, I call her ‘Isabella,’ is perfectly insouciant. The other one, Vinnie Russo, is all ‘Hi, I’m gorgeous!’”
Lissa still lives in the neighbourhood. She tells me she’s been bringing the ducks in Parc Beaubien alfalfa and oats ”healthier than crumbs of bread or popcorn. They forage well but Isabella’s making her eggs now so this gives her an extra kick.”
“Isabella will gently paddle to one of the tufts and be like ‘What you got?’ I toss her a few sprigs and she swallows them. Vinnie lets her eat first. He’s always checking on his girl. He’ll come over for a quick ‘quack’ and dart straight back to her. Nature-triggered hormones, testosterone, estrogen, love.”
Lissa feels a responsibility to be optimistic because “so many people are suffering.” The parks are empty but “today, a boy, no swings, sandbox, kids to play with, noticed the ducks. ‘Tu as vu le canard, maman, le canard!’ He was learning about nature, about himself.”
The ducks “have no clue” about the pandemic but they know a thing or two about survival. When it gets hot in summer, the pond can dry up so “the mother will take her chicks to Parc Outremont or Parc Saint-Viateur, in the middle of the night when there are no people or cars.” Lissa chuckles. “Waddling up ave Bloomfield, all in a straight line.”
After 15 1/2 years together, Lissa lost Ginger to natural causes in December. “I dreamt that she said to me, ‘Be happy.’ Ginger’s soul exists, her light is beaming out onto the world.”
Before we get off the phone, Lissa advises me: “My friend, get yourself some oregano oil at Thuy. Immune support for the respiratory system. Good for the body.”
Lissa&Ginger&Isabella&VinnieRusso: good for my soul.