In the course of just six weeks’ time, lives around the world have changed immeasurably. It seems that every day we have adjusted to a new normal, as regular agendas and routines have been kicked to the curb.
My life, the least likely to be marred by this pandemic, has seen very few alterations in my schedule. Overall, I feel lucky, as I have worked from home for nearly a decade; I rarely stray far from that venue except to bask in the simple joy of a daily walk, or an errand or two, and I continue to use my pantry provisions I bought last Fall in anticipation of a brutally cold and snowy Winter.
And then there are the losses … I have none in that regard.
A myriad of thoughts …
The current events dull the mind, making it difficult to stay sharp and we muddle along. I spent a few angst-filled days worrying whether I should continue mixing and mingling at the Park and I don’t mean with just my furry and feathered friends. Most all of the regular walkers are either using their treadmills, getting their steps in the ‘hood, or have seemingly abandoned their exercise regimen for now. I had a dilemma – should I continue walking there, where it SEEMS safe – after all, no one is in close proximity … and then the afterthought: do I mask up or not?
Well, I stewed and fretted and didn’t walk at the Park for five days while trying to make a decision. I missed the routine. If the weather is funky, I’m content to forego a walk as I don’t want to get drenched or go slip-slidin’ away, but the weather was sunshiny and beautiful, so, to keep active, I returned to the roots of my daily regimen, where it all began in September 2011, walking in the neighborhood.
But there was no fun in that route, so with some trepidation, I masked up and returned to my favorite nature nook that I have enjoyed since 2013. Quite simply, I missed the ambiance. My eyes needed to see Spring as it gently unfolds. My ears wanted to hear the birdsong, the woodpecker drilling, the raucous ducks splashing around and the geese honking noisily overhead as they prepare for a splash landing. I missed chit chatting with the squirrels. So, I donned a mask and returned, but with one concession. I left the camera at home and will continue to do so. I decided there was no use fiddling around my face just to grab a shot or two. I’ll create the image instead with words, or I’ll use an old photo for that blog post.
The State of Michigan has been hit hard – really hard … and that was the reason for my angst over whether or not I should continue walking. Our first COVID-19 case was March 10th and our first death was March 18th. Wayne County, where I live, is considered a hot spot for cases/deaths, giving Michigan the unfortunate distinction of being the third highest state in the union for COVID-19 casualties. Even the city where I live, a little over five miles square, had reported well over 100 cases and six deaths when I gulped, took a deep breath and put my walking regimen on pause momentarily.
With our Stay-at-Home/Stay-Safe Order extended until April 30th, one of the criteria is we are urged not to “joyride” and make unnecessary car trips wherein we might get into an accident, or have car trouble, so first responders, tow truck drivers, or even hospital medical personnel will need to interact with us needlessly. The State Police suggested we limit our car trips to essential places only. That’s okay; I’d rather not be gassing up at the germy gas pump anyway and my favorite park is just one mile away and easily accessible by foot.
Dredging up the past …
So, it is finally time to roll out some of those photos that have been languishing in my picture files … some of them have been gathering dust since last Summer! Since we had a mild Winter despite the dire predictions for lots of snow, I had plenty of opportunities to walk and get fresh fodder for blog posts.
Today’s post is one such walk I took at a Metropark in late Fall.
We have 13 Metroparks in our state, and they are doing their best to encourage Michiganders to use their facilities to get out and enjoy nature and stretch their legs. Hopefully, folks live close enough to these venues to not joyride and they may take advantage of the free admission that is offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The rest of the time it is $10.00 per car each day to enter the parks unless you have a year-long pass for $35.00, like I have. The Metroparks team has been posting virtual hikes on Twitter and Facebook and I have been vicariously enjoying them. One such video, (geared more to kids, but interesting nonetheless), was about an interpretive guide’s trek through Oakwoods Metropark and a stop to view an eager beaver’s handiwork. You can view it here if you’d like.
So, that video shows what I saw last Fall and then some – yep, a destructive little varmint left its calling card, i.e. beaver chews! As a side note, people think the squirrels are destructive sometimes. Believe me, I’m all about sharin’ the love and treats with the squirrels at the Park and the house these days, but I have had battles with them in the past, as they ravaged my bird feeders while the poor birds perched on the fence and looked helplessly on. You’ll recall a couple of months ago I wrote how squirrels chewed the phone line and I lost my landline connection. Squirrels are no angels, but they sure don’t destroy a tree like a beaver does.
Before I conclude this post, I took a few minutes to match my thoughts to these photos from last Fall’s hike through the woods.
Throughout dismal days and abysmal stats, those front line workers, whether they are first responders, healthcare personnel, or workers bustling about to load up store shelves – all should be given kudos, for they are heroes and truly a cut above the rest of us.
Though we non-essential workers and retirees are now apt to hunker down and not stray far from our homes, to many, the days have begun running together as we move forward collectively in a circle, like automatons.
As we read and hear the daily stats, our hearts have ached and tension built – fear gnawed at our very souls …
… leaving us feeling vulnerable, nerves raw and ragged, wondering if we’d been exposed, or would be next?
It’s just been a tangled mess.
We often think we cannot see the forest for the trees. For now, we hang onto hope that soon we will return to normalcy and those things that we always took for granted and which give us happiness … our simple routines, even the human touch of our loved ones, will return. One day things will be cut and dried and may this never happen again in our lifetime.