On a bright, sunny, day like Sunday (April 12th), Langley City artist Mike Hunniford would normally be painting outdoors, usually in McBurney Plaza on the one-way where he sets up with his shopping cart full of painting supplies, canvases, an easel, and his fold-up chair.
But with the arrival of the COVID-19 virus, Hunniford has had to sacrifice all that to retreat indoors.
Hunniford said he hasn’t come down with any symptoms, and intends to keep it that way.
“It’s difficult, but I want to be safe and I want everybody else to be safe,” is how Hunniford describes his decision to self-isolate.
He’s adjusted to painting on his third-floor Langley City apartment balcony, and he has a friend who drops by most days to keep him company by sitting under the big tree next to his balcony and chatting from a safe distance.
Flexing his creative muscles helps him cope with the solitude, but it’s no substitute for human contact.
“It’s not easy, ” Hunniford commented.
“I’m very social, and I have a lot of friends come by [normally].”
It’s one of the things he enjoys about painting public — the contact with people who talk to him as he completes his paintings.
As an recovering alcoholic with many years of sobriety under his belt, he also misses going to meetings and hasn’t been able to figure out the virtual alternatives offered by some Alcoholics Anonymous groups.
“I don’t know how to work technology, so I never get on the Zoom thing [online video conferences],” Hunniford said.
People in his building appear to be making an effort to maintain social distancing, he added.
“When I go take the garbage out, there’s nobody around.”
In a 2019 Langley Advance Times profile, Hunniford described his journey from homelessness and addiction to sobriety, and how he had a cross tattooed on his face, and another on each of his hands, to remind him of how he was saved by a higher power.