Last May when Felicity Sidnell Reid asked me to help run a blog for Spirit of the Hills writers to share their work and experiences during the pandemic, I hesitated. We’d been in lockdown for over a month and a half, and I’d developed an effective routine of online exercise classes, daily walks, meditation, working on a novel, and keeping a journal. I worried that taking on a new project might throw my routine off balance, but a blog sounded intriguing. I said yes, and am glad I did.
I enjoyed hearing from writers I hadn’t seen in months, reading about their experiences with isolation and the changes wrought by the pandemic, finding images to illustrate their posts, sharing their work with online readers. Some writers were pessimistic. Others were hopeful. During the past nine months, the world has been through some very troubling events and also some promising ones. In Ontario we’ve been in and out of lockdown, people have struggled with personal difficulties, as well as political and societal issues, but some of us have found the focus, energy and inspiration to write during this difficult, disruptive time.
Looking back, I can see that Felicity’s idea for a blog showed great foresight. She knew we’d need a way to stay connected and somewhere to share our writing. Our monthly meetings went online, but Zoom doesn’t work for everyone, and leaves some of us feeling a bit empty, longing for a more expansive dialogue. The blog provided space for a conversation, not exactly like the ones we used to have at our in-person meetings at the Grafton Inn, but not so different either.
It’s been almost nine months since we started the Journal, months that have spanned spring, summer, fall, and part of a winter. Felicity and I are grateful to all of you who sent us your work to share and to all of the readers who visited or frequented the blog and sometimes left comments. Most of us have found silver linings in this pandemic. The Journal in Time of Pandemic and Lockdown has been one of the shiniest.
We are currently in the process of compiling an e-book from poems, prose, art work, and photographs that have appeared on the blog, a book that will provide a record of our writing and our experiences during this unusual time.
Now the Festival of the Arts committee needs this site to begin promoting our 2022 Arts Festival. So with much gratitude, fond thoughts, and virtual hugs to all our contributors and readers, we are wrapping up the Journal today.