By Isabelle Bouchard

My grandmother used to say often – hope springs eternal. Apparently, that line comes from a poem[1]. But I think her fondness for it as an expression was rooted in being born right after the Great Depression and having lived through the Second World War to see peace and prosperity on the other side of those horrific years.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that saying with everything going on right now.  It came to mind most recently at the grocery store.

We all know prices rose quickly during the pandemic. We’ve seen and felt the impacts of higher food prices, in particular. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine won’t do anything to bring those down. In fact, food prices are likely headed higher and  product shortages are likely – especially products that must travel to get on Canadian shelves. So, buying Canadian may become less of a deliberate choice and more of a necessity.

Before the pandemic, Canadians got used to living in a world of integrated supply chains and on-demand products. (My grandmother would have been amazed to get a mango in her local grocery store in January.).

Things slowed during the pandemic and are about to be disrupted again by war.

I have no clue what it means to live in time of war – just as three years ago I could not imagine living through a global pandemic.

Those I know who have lived war-life talk about shortages of everything: eggs, milk, butter, bread, medication, even information.

Hopefully common sense will prevent the current conflict from growing any further. But what if we’re headed toward war in Europe (or beyond)? Russia is an Arctic neighbour. And if it has the US in its sights, or vice versa, we will be involved.

We are definitely lucky to be Canadians. We have land that is cultivated by hard-working people. We have industries to transform what we produce. We have social programs that are efficient and can be adjusted to be even more so. If we don’t get attacked at our Northern border, we could be just fine and could continue to help those in need in the world.

Spring is almost among us.  Farmers will soon sow their fields. (You can even plan your little garden if you are fortunate enough to have a backyard.) We can soon get together with our friends and regain our pre-March 2020 lives. And yet a giant cloud of uncertainty hangs over these joyful moments.

With less money in our pockets, with so much suffering in Ukraine, and with the anguish of the many unknowns to come, it may be tough to keep hope.  But let’s keep our head high and get ready for anything that could happen.

Hopefully, weather will cooperate this growing season so the harvests of 2022 will be more than enough.

Hopefully, we will be able to continue to feed the world with our pulses, our beef, our pork, our wheat, our corn and everything we produce.

Hope springs – eternally, and perhaps most importantly, even in the darkest and most uncertain of days. As with so many things, Grandma was right.

[1] This expression was coined by the poet Alexander Pope in An Essay on Man (1732), “Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” and very quickly became proverbial. Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) was an English poet, translator, and satirist of the Augustan period and one of its greatest artistic exponents.