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PORT BLANDFORD, N.L. — Blaine Tucker has everything you might want for a good night in the woods.
He has an outfitters tent set up, a wood stove, pots and pans for a boil up and his nine-year-old golden retriever Cooper for company.
There is just one problem with the scenario.
The tent is set up in his driveway and the closest he can get to his girlfriend, Wanda Lee Williams, and their young daughter, Ella Rose Tucker, is to poke his head out the opening of the tent to peer through the window of the couple's Port Blandford home.
The tent, with its damp mattress, is the last place he wants to be.
“I had a choice to make,” said the 35-year-old Tucker. “I could’ve went to my mother’s house and stayed there, but I wanted to be close to my family.”
Tucker is in a self-isolation period of 14 days after returning from his two-week stint in Alberta late Wednesday evening.
The provincial government mandated that any travellers from out of province must quarantine themselves for two weeks as a way to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“That is the reality of it and I feel it is necessary,” said Tucker, who hung a teddy bear from the tent in a reflection of the movement sweeping communities in the province.
He looks at his tent and sees the work of a community coming together to help a neighbour.
Talks of the tent started six days before he left for home. A group of his friends, who had never put up a heavy duty tent like Tucker's before, made sure it got done.
They combed the nearby woods for the trees needed to prop up the canvas and made sure there was a wood stove at the back of the tent. They even chopped a load of fire wood for the stove.
Williams took the mattress in the spare bedroom and laid it on the floor, then took a group of family photos and put them next to his bed.
They’ll be the first thing he sees in the morning and the last thing he sees at night for 14 days.
When those 14 days are up, it'll be time for him to head back to work for another two weeks. Then, the process will repeat itself again.
“We have no other choice but to do it this way,” said Williams. “It is a challenge for sure.”
People have been dropping off gift baskets and Williams baked a loaf of banana bread to add to the treats he’s received.
Tucker is the first to admit that he didn’t take the threat of the COVID-19 virus seriously. Like many, he didn’t think the virus would ever be in a position to threaten him or his family.
“There’s no getting out of it,” Tucker said of possibly being in contact with someone who has the virus. “I flew back (from Alberta) on a place packed solid with people.”
Now, he wants to do his part in helping stop spread of the virus and is hopefully inspiring others to do so.
For him, the stakes are too high not to do something.
“My daughter’s life is more important than the hugs and kiss I want to give her,” said Tucker, who is a long distance worker who makes his living in Alberta.
Because of that he’s missed his daughter’s first New Year's, her first Christmas and a lot of other firsts.
April 3 has been circled on his calendar because it is Ella Rose’s first birthday. He wasn’t going to miss this first.
And, as such, there was a big celebration planned.
Sadly, because of the Coronavirus and his desire to be safe, the party planned for the Lions Club won’t be happening.
“I’ll be spending her first birthday looking at her through the window,” said Tucker, the last part solemnly hanging in the air.