SAANICH -- Sonia just started cycling for the first time since she was a kid.

“It was pretty shaky,” she admits. “But it’s getting better and better.”

It’s one of two new things Sonia felt compelled to begin doing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The other new activity was inspired after she felt uneasy about noticing nobody on the streets, yet comforted by seeing so many paper hearts in windows.

“I got a spark of inspiration,” she smiles. “And I just started writing!”

The archivist and executive assistant started writing what she’d never written before, music lyrics.

“My brain works in mysterious ways,” Sonia says. “And it said, song!”

Her lyrics begin with expressing pandemic fears before becoming a positive chorus inspired by B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry:

It’s our time to be kind, to be calm, to be safe

Side by side as one, but not face to face

We’re in this together though far apart

Sharing our love through the window with paper hearts

When she was done writing, Sonia faced a hurdle — she can’t make music.

“I haven’t played (an instrument) since high school, and nothing that could be relevant for this song,” she laughs. “I played tuba!”

So, Sonia posted the Paper Heart lyrics on her blog in Victoria.

The lyrics caught the attention of an acquaintance, who shared them with a colleague — and so on — until they ended up in Kitchener, Ont., with a full-time skating instructor and part-time musician, who is aptly named Victoria.

“I though the message was really powerful,” Victoria says of her first reaction to reading Sonia’s lyrics. “We can be strong as a community and protect each other.”

Although Victoria had never worked with a stranger before, she embraced the challenge of creating original music. After a couple of conversations with Sonia online, and after more than six weeks of composing in her spare time, Victoria debuted the completed song on her YouTube channel.

“It’s our time to be kind, to be calm, to be safe. Side by side as one but not face to face,” Victoria sings into a microphone at her piano, before the music swells. “We’re in this together though far apart. Sharing our love through the window with paper hearts.”

“I was actually nervous,” Victoria says of showing the finished song to Sonia. “I was like, ‘What if she doesn’t like it?’”

“I was thrilled,” Sonia smiles. “She did such a beautiful job.”

Sonia says that — more than anything — she will treasure how two strangers from two different parts of the country came together during the pandemic to create something positive

“As much as possible, push through the anxiety [inspired by the pandemic] and try to put out a little bit of kindness,” Sonia says. “That’s really what this song’s about.”

Sharing kindness, like riding a bike, is something you never forget how to do.