An injection of kindness
For those of us who can afford to, the toughest part of coping with COVID is the waiting. Waiting for the wave of cases to pass. Waiting for the vaccine. Waiting for the chance to be social again. And again, because I can, I begin most mornings with a long, brisk walk around town. My timing often follows on the heels of the morning newspaper deliveries. So, along my routes, I regularly pick up some of the plastic-bag-wrapped papers and deposit them on the porch of their recipient.
“Why not save my neighbours a few steps,” I figure, “especially if the weather’s inclement?”
Anyway, one day a few months ago, I returned home from my walk. Hanging from my front-door handle was a bag containing a cardboard box with two (still warm) muffins inside. There was no note, no identification, not even a logo, just the baked goods. All that day – after my wife and I enjoyed devouring the muffins – I wondered where they’d come from. It wasn’t long before I speculated perhaps someone along my route, who knew I periodically walked their newspaper from curbside to porch, might be my mystery muffin messenger. I started texting, emailing, phoning friends from along my walking paths – the Christoffs, the MacDonalds, the Sterritts, the Davies, the Carsons, the Moffat/Reiners and others. I asked our two adult daughters. To a person, they all said, “No. But what a nice gesture.”
Often on the pages of the Cosmos we read that Uxbridge residents care enough about this place and its citizens, that they come to the aid of others. They’ll return a pet. They’ll offer to repair a vandalized store or home. They’ll pitch in at the food bank or a service club when some of us are down on our luck, put out by circumstance, or struck by unexpected loss. We are a town of citizens who do know our neighbours, who do care about others’ welfare, and who do help in times of crisis. Uxbridge is often home to random acts of kindness.
About a week ago, during a stop to (safely) see our youngest grandchild in town, I noticed that his favourite sandbox looked a little anemic. In other words, it needed an injection of some new sand. I knew who to call. Long-time farmer (and for me annual canoeing buddy) Keith St. John listened to my sad story, and he knew that I knew he had a seam of sand on his back-40. “Could I drive out there and fill a few bags for my grandson’s sandbox?”
“Sure,” Keith said with typical enthusiasm. “I’ll take you there myself.”
He did better than that. I followed his Bobcat to the farthest edge of his farmland, where an eroded hillside revealed that seam of sand. I stood back as he bucketed away for 10 minutes to get to the best of the sand. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought Keith had tapped into Foxbridge’s prized sand traps. Anyway, in the blink of an eye, I had all a child’s sandbox could ever desire. I was in awe of Keith’s gesture. But you see, Keith is actually part of a national personality – Canadians care about others.
A survey conducted last year – during the second COVID wave – showed Canada and Canadians moving up the rankings for the friendliest place and people in the world. A think tank called Migration Policy Group showed (in December 2020) that Canada and New Zealand have displaced Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. as the top-ranking countries, principally the result of populist political forces. For its immigrant-friendly policies, its emphasis on equal rights, opportunities and positive attitudes, Canada scored fourth in the world. Meanwhile, Gallop recently concluded that of 101 countries surveyed, Canada is the preferred destination bar none. That kind of statistic ought to be broadcast and celebrated as the hospitality industry and tourism agencies in this country attempt to rebuild post-pandemic.
By the way, by this point, I’d pretty much forgotten about the delivery of those two gorgeous muffins at my door late last winter. Then, this week, friend and neighbour Kathy Wasylenky emailed me. As people often do, Kathy wondered if I had any wartime information in my files about a Canadian who’d served in the liberation of the Netherlands. She finished her note by wishing me well. Then, she mentioned something her husband had discovered.
“Dave solved the mystery of who was bringing his newspaper to the porch,” Kathy wrote. “So, he left a muffin on your door one day.”
Mystery solved! I get to thank Dave Wasylenky, my mystery muffin messenger, publicly. May your random acts of kindness prove contagious. And may we all applaud Dave and Keith and so many others among us who care to inject some charity into these lonely times.
For more Barris Beat columns, go to www.tedbarris.com