Community Feature: Amber Antymniuk

Kelsey OlsonCommunity Features

Amber holding her children's books

And one day, the world stopped…

Over the past few months, the world has changed significantly- it has changed in ways that most of us could have never imagined before. The year 2020 has been filled with confusion, tension, apprehension, hardship, heartache, loss, and devastation for people all over the world. With this uncertainty, I am fortunate to be in a position where I am able to take time to reflect on some of the positives during a pandemic, specifically those that relate to nature from the perspective of a mother and children’s book author. 

Amber Antymniuk
Amber and her children’s book

Many people have written about how the environment has gotten a break during COVID times. With a significant decrease in travel, meetings taking place online, and daily commutes left in the dust, our air has become noticeably cleaner.  Not only is this a positive for humans, it is also something I am sure plants and animals are all enjoying as well.  

Speaking of plants, whether they are grown indoors or outside in a garden plot, more things are being grown.  According to Reuters, “Canada-based Stokes Seeds, which ships to the United States and Canada, received 1,000 online orders during the weekend of March 21, four times more than normal.”  Additionally, greenhouses throughout Saskatoon have seen a spike in seed, plant and all garden related product sales over the past few months.  For some people in my generation, I think gardening, preserving and making from scratch have been activities left to our parents and grandparents – perhaps a bit of a lost art.  It is nice to see that people are finding the time to enjoy these things again. 

Another positive during COVID has been the ability to spend more time enjoying nature.  With people working from home and kids not attending traditional school or daycare, schedules are a bit more flexible allowing for people to take advantage of getting outside when the weather is nice.  

For some, being laid-off, or working in a different sort of context, has freed up time to enjoy regular walks or bike rides.  And, instead of being in a time crunch because, “we have to run to hockey practice or yoga class,” we have been gifted a slight sense of leisureliness.  Time to breathe without strict schedules and timelines. Time to listen to the birds.

Sticks become swords and instruments

With parks, pools, schools, play centers and daycares closed, many parents have been spending more time with their kids. More time creating, playing and exploring. More time making fun and less time buying it.  Rather than going to the children’s museum, the zoo, or swimming, families go for bike rides, shoot hoops in the driveway or collect bugs, leaves, rocks or treasures in the back alley.  Puddles are jumped in.  Sticks become swords and instruments. And the pace of a walk becomes more of a stroll.  

Learning has escaped the classroom walls.  It has become more practical: growing and selling strawberry plants, making a how to video about lawnmowers and cutting the grass, participating in farm work like seeding the crop and planting the garden.  During COVID, it has become more important to learn how to make gifts, cards and food all from scratch. 

It is no surprise that Saskatchewan residents have been pretty good at social distancing.  Gathering in small groups, spread apart – no problem.  For many Saskatchewanians, this is nothing new.  We dine outdoors during chilly, windy days when we are seeding or harvesting.  We roast hot dogs and battle camping trips even on the coldest May long weekends. We never hesitate to throw a picnic blanket down in 35 degree heat or -25 degree winter days when we take the skidoos out for a ride.  When a neighbour stops by the farm for a visit, it often takes place around a truck box.  And we sure look forward to spending time on the deck or patio no matter how many mosquito bites we get.  All of these things make us pretty good at visiting from 6 feet away. 

Looking ahead, there is a new longing for community engagement, participation in collaborative events, and physical connections.  At the beginning of COVID people said, “I can’t wait for things to get back to normal”.  Now that we are re-opening Saskatchewan and the world is “starting” again, it is hard for me to say that I want things to go back to how they were.  Beauty, peace and calmness can all be found when one decides to create rather than buy and when one decides it is okay to turn a walk into a stroll.  I guess no matter what happens, I want to hold on to some of these positives.  

Amber Antymniuk was born and raised outside of Tisdale, Saskatchewan. She now lives and works out of her home in Saskatoon. Her inspiration draws from her rural upbringing and mother nature. 

Follow her on Instagram: @amberantymniuk.