Coping with COVID: Getting away from it all!
By Eddee Daniel
How quickly things change! What a stunning turn of events, this sudden transformation of society. It was just one month ago that Governor Evers announced the closing of schools. Which, of course, was the prelude to closing everything. The subheading of the news report on March 13 was “Governor expects schools to reopen April 6.” That too changed quickly, as we know.
It was three weeks ago now that we were ordered to “shelter at home.” Feels like far longer, doesn’t it? At first, for those who were healthy and financially secure, it may have felt oddly like a forced vacation. People began to binge on their streaming services, dig out dusty games for the whole family to play and— yes! —go outside for long walks in area parks.
If you’ve been following The Natural Realm you know that I’ve been among those encouraging people to get outdoors and enjoy nature. That’s what I do! It’s what this blog and our website are all about, after all. But it has come to this: State Parks are the latest addition to the list of things that are now closed. Another disturbing change.
Sadly, this one didn’t have to be. It wasn’t just that multitudes descended on popular state parks. It was the irresponsibility of some of those people who blew this opportunity for all of us. Too many disregarded social distancing guidelines by congregating in groups. An uptick in littering and vandalism made things worse.
But, as I’ve maintained all along, you can still go outside and get away from the crowds. (Our Find-a-Park map can help!) The photos that follow, taken in 18 different locations all around our region, show individuals and families enjoying parks and preserves while maintaining social distances. I’ve even been to a number of parks that are not included because I saw no one to photograph. Muskego Park (below) is one example; I didn’t even see the beavers, who must also be sheltering at home!
Finally, on a more personal note, I can report a pleasant change. Because I’m making a far greater effort than usual to capture people enjoying our wealth of nature (a goal made easier by the abundance of subjects in the parks), I’ve also had more opportunities to meet and chat with folks (from at least six feet away!) I’m giving the last word today to Janet, who I met on a foggy morning this week in Jacobus Park. After our exchange I asked her to email me her reflections and she sent me this:
“Our days have changed. The virus, corona19 is a real and present danger. It is affecting lives in serious and threatening ways moment by moment. And yet, for many of us, it is also a gift.
“My days are re-born into possibilities, as old routine is replaced with things new and creative, moment by moment full of opportunity! Each day the gift unexpected appears, due only to our current situation.
“A greeting in the park, a courtesy in a store by staff or customer, a close encounter with nature, like a bird, creature, or blossom. A willingness to go with the flow! Without change we would not have butterflies.
“Now my morning walk is outdoors instead of the gym. I wear a pink jacket. Saying and wearing pink lifts my spirits! I visualize our world covered in a light white netting with butterflies in every color of the rainbow resting, fluttering their wings.
“I can too! Long after we are on the other side of this moment, forever changed, I know I will continue enjoying a new life flow, moment by moment!”
This is the fifth installment in our “Coping with COVID” series. Here are the previous ones:
Remember, our “Find-a-Park” map is here to help you— yes! —find a park. Please observe safe personal hygiene and social distancing guidelines when you head out for fresh air, exercise and a healthy dose of nature. And, as always, take only pictures and leave only footprints.
To see the complete set of chronological images taken during the COVID-19 shutdown, go to Eddee’s Flickr album.
The featured image at the top is from Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. Eddee Daniel is a board member of Preserve Our Parks and A Wealth of Nature Project Director. All images in today’s photo essay were shot in the past week.