A New World

It’s been more than a month since I’ve written here, and my gosh, how the world has changed in that time. Six weeks ago I could not have imagined the reality we’re living with today, as a frightening pandemic sweeps the globe. In just the past week, Ohio has ordered the closing of all schools (for at least three weeks), as well as all bars and restaurants (except for take-out orders). People have been hoarding supplies of toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, and bread, as they try to come to grips with an uncertain future.

Milk-white toothed polypore - fungus blog
Fungus on tree trunk – maybe milk-white toothed polypore (Irpex lacteus)?

We’re all scared and confused. We’re told we should stay at least six feet away from other people who don’t live with us. I began my own “social isolation” immediately after getting a haircut last Friday, and it’s already starting to drive me crazy. I usually love being single and living alone, but I’ve discovered that there’s a huge difference between choosing to be alone and being forced to do it. Over the past few days, I’ve been trying to cope with a deep loneliness that’s settled over me. Today I finally started reaching out to friends, because I realized that many of them may be so absorbed in their own lives that they forget about those of us who don’t have a built-in support system in our homes. It’s going to be up to me to admit when I need someone to talk to, but that’s hard. I told a friend today that I feel a little bit of shame that I feel so lonely. But I’m determined to fight those feelings and get the support I need to get through this. And I swear, when this is all over, I’m going to organize my friends for the biggest group hug ever.

Insect tunnels on pine bark - Oak Openings - blog
Tunnels made by some type of boring insect

When the world was “normal,” my calendar overflowed with things like board meetings, field trips, lunch dates with friends, and yoga classes. Within about three days, all of that was wiped clean, as almost everything has been cancelled for at least the next two months. I feel adrift, unsure what to do with myself.  Right now my brain is too distracted to do much reading or writing, two of my favorite things to do.

I quickly realized that the solution for getting me to the other side of this crazy time is going to be, not surprisingly, the natural world. Nature is really and truly going to be my therapy for the foreseeable future. I’ve got to double down on my Big Bug Year, and use that to focus myself on something other than my fear. It’s still a bit early for much insect activity up here though, and so I’ll just go for walks and do some birding until the bugs are active again. The photos in this post were all taken on my walks over the past few days. Despite how it feels in the human world, the natural world is proceeding without regard to our problems. Plants are starting to send out new growth and birds are beginning courtship rituals.

mint - dried seed heads - blog
Dried seed heads of mint — I can’t resist crushing them and inhaling!

The other day, as I unloaded groceries in the sun-infused kitchen, I watched a squirrel at my bird feeders. He was performing his normal acrobatics to raid the bird feeder, and I found myself envying him his ignorance of the human world’s troubles.  While I look at my email filled with notifications of events being cancelled and businesses closing, the squirrel just keeps reaching into that feeder and basking in the sun.

Wild cucumber - echinocystis - blog
Seed pod of a wild cucumber

Each morning as I drink my coffee, I’m serenaded by the boisterous songs of the male cardinal in my yard, with backup from the muted cooing of the mourning doves. The beginning of spring bird activity is always a welcome sign at this time of year, but it’s especially important this year. To me, it’s a reminder that life will go on. It may seem that chaos reigns everywhere right now, but when I pay attention to what’s happening in nature, it calms me. When I’m focused on the natural world, my breathing slows and I know my blood pressure probably goes lower as well.

Lately I’ve been enjoying the loud performances of chorus frogs in vernal pools. Sometimes they’re so loud it sounds like there could be thousands of them. And yet I can’t find a single frog! Here’s a short video of one of their performances:

I hope you’re able to get out in nature often in the coming weeks as we settle into a new normal of reduced human contact. If you’re on Facebook, I would love it if you would share your nature experiences on my blog’s Facebook page.

Be safe out there, and be kind to one another.  It’s going to be okay.

 

11 thoughts on “A New World”

  1. We are all feeling that sting of not seeing friends and family up close and personal. I am retired and lead a relatively quiet life but this is way different. One thing I know most of us will survive this and be able to carry on. Nature is the best therapy. Hang in there.

  2. Oh, you know out in nature is where it’s happenin’ for me! I’m not scared so much as treading the uncertainty of what’s ahead of us. I like to be prepared for all things, and for the most part I am with this. This is new territory for us all. I’ve said it many times lately but I believe we get all of the experiences that we are supposed to in this life. I hope we all learn from this and try to work together instead of the “every man for himself” that we’re seeing a lot of. Good message for you to put out there about encouraging people to turn to nature. I think those singing birds each morning have the skinny on starting the day right! 🙂

    1. I think that’s the harder part for me too…the uncertainty. As a person with control issues, my reaction was to flood my friends and family with information about what to do and what not to do. I found out quickly that they were tuning me out because it was overwhelming, LOL. Today it finally sunk in that I can’t control what anyone else does, and the best way for me to get through this is to just try to put out positive energy to the world and let go of everything else. We shall see how I do….

      1. I think it’s takes continually being cognizant of our need to control, and to remind ourselves that each person handles things their own way and that they can ask us if they need our help. Our way isn’t always the right path for another person. I may have mentioned that the books by Byron Katie were super helpful to me in letting go of control and letting my ego take over my thoughts. Is it true that my family/friends need my help? No. Did that person ask for my help? No! Asking myself questions totally changed the way I get involved… or not. 🙂

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