In previous years, late October was a delightful time in Stratford, with the theatre season winding down and the restaurateurs and hoteliers counting their dosh after six months of frantic round-the-clock work. Fewer cars with not-from-here licence plates sat in our limited supply of convenient parking spots, and the locals gradually let up on their griping about the city fathers’ focus on pampering the visitors. When the snow started to fly, we had the town to ourselves again.
Yes, Stratford is charming in winter. It’s cold, but not the teeth-aching, bone-deep freeze of Ottawa; just enough to keep the snow down. Thanks to the Lake Effect, we get lots of that, along with quite violent wind storms, and people who have lived here all their lives complain vigorously about it. Me, not so much — I have waited for the bus on the Mackenzie King Bridge, shivering in a down-filled parka with my back turned to a wind blowing straight from Ellesmere Island, and I think winter in Stratford is ... nice.
Summer was rough this year without tourists and the theatre that brings them, and this winter will be worse as the toiling classes struggle to get by without their traditional proceeds from work in the hospitality industry. I expect our nasty little illegal drug business (mostly meth) to thrive, and the docket at Provincial Court to expand with domestic violence charges and all the rest of the misery that follows people with too much stress in their lives and no damn money.
Thanks to its mostly-rural nature, Perth County has been but lightly touched by the coronavirus, and that’s a blessing. So far, the pandemic has not beaten us down enough to erode public good will, but I wonder how long we can hold out if next year is anything like this one.