For several years we have lived on this same street, the one I’ve driven mostly at the speed limit. Except for the occasional weekend run up and back down the adjacent dirt road, during this shelter in place time, I’ve been walking this street and all about in my neighborhood, a lot. My new favorite jaunt is a 3.5 mile loop that for a section of that distance I pass by open water. It’s a shallow, in spots reedy and swampy pond, but right now, the sight of the wind rippling across it is heaven. In March, when we first began the stay at home order, the pond was broadly covered by ice but under a cloudy or blue sky this expanse was everything wonderful to see even while frozen and stagnant and filled me with enough joy to navigate another challenging day.
Over these last four weeks I’ve watched the ice recede and the wildlife return. At first it was the chorus of song birds heralding my approach, but soon came the shiny green-headed mallard and his demur partner. Regardless of where they were padding about in the pond, close to the road’s edge or clear across the water, they took no heed of me, but the sight of them halted me mid-stride. There was the day that the Canadian Geese’s mating game made me blush. Today was the Kingfisher. Each a reminder to stop, to breath, to stop.
Everyday I walked I found there was more to discover in my neighborhood. The buds on the young tree. A cluster of hens pecking on a hillside. A ground hog running through the winter grass of an open field. Even the robin pulling four inches of worm from the softening earth stole my attention. A beaver peeking out from a small reedy area which caused circles and ripples to grow across the water and eventually spook two pairs of ducks into retreat. Of course there are the two herons who although I call to them on the daily still remain shy.
This month I have learned more about myself, some of it like a hard pill and sometimes like a date that’s going well. One fact is I need to keep moving, with my body, with ideas, with plans, and certainly with hope. I’m a happy participant of a spinning earth, and busy is better. When the whole of our planet halted, the halted parts of sheltering were just plain painful. Like how slowly daffodils open when watched this closely. Or how one day can take a million hours to creep to noon. I am also having trouble with all the folks out there discussing how the world will be a better place after this pandemic. Like isn’t it so great that the New Delhi sky is bright blue now and the dolphins are doing flips in the unpolluted waters of Venice? Suddenly every bit of “news” has a filter and I think this rosy hue not even close to accurate. In the U.S. alone there are 22 million people out of work (and those are just the documented claims). This is 18% of our population. How can one feel good with that collective burden? Will we, can we, reach down and help these people, our children, our neighbors, those who perform services for us, all who will need more than a few dollars to maintain, and keep going until they find employment again? It is not that I doubt our generous natures, but will that level of giving be enough? On top of the sad 25,000 and climbing deaths caused by COVID19 in our country alone, isn’t there more we need to do beside repost Instagram memes discussing the benefits of this global crisis?
We need thinkers, visionaries and workers, to tackle these complex and immediate issues, instead of the reality TV host firing them. Leading our country through a series of 280 characters into soaring disregard for the poor or the needy or the educated, Trump’s legacy will never be to spark the much needed innovation to bring our most vulnerable back to their feet. He is a crippler. As divisive as the oligarchs and dictators he mimics. If we must allow him to stay in the Oval Office a few more months, let’s make sure our Governor’s and local agencies have our support in these troubling times, let them know we appreciate their efforts to keep us safe, and work within our communities to feed the hungry, help who we can, and establish a smart return to commerce. Perhaps we could all reach out to everyone in our contact lists and see how they are faring, or if you need anything, material or emotional, push pride away and ask for help. Let’s be bold enough to dismantle Twitter on our devises and stop listening to any media generated fount of lies; instead let’s find truth in the lives of those in our own neighborhoods. We can see what’s happening right here, right now, and don’t need anyone telling us what to fear in your tomorrows.
Perhaps that will be the streak of sunlight we all find when this nightmare ends. That we listen to each other. Not those who try to manipulate our worry and bundle our nerves on the nightly. Not those who advocate xenophobic walls and build fear about an “unseen enemy.” Instead let us be a country that reaches out to our neighbor who is out of work or your cousin worried about their elderly mother or your once ambitious teen who doesn’t see a future. Lift them up, however you can. Then go for a walk in your hood. If yours is like mine, you might catch a crafty beaver creating something, find a bit of solace in the broad wings of the soaring heron or delight in the patch of open water. What I have learned for sure is that hope will find you along the way.