Along with everyone else facing the COVID-19 threat, I have spent a lot of time trying to both deter and prepare for the possible arrival of the virus in my home. My efforts to delay this visitation through distancing and staying home have become second nature, but the expectation itself diverts energy and attention to something ominous that lurks unseen and intangible.
And yet it’s spring, the best possible antidote that I can imagine to this wearisome watchfulness. Though wet and cold (a polar vortex is paying an unseasonable visit at this very moment) this spring has delivered some welcome surprises. One of my favorite parts of Jemicy’s online learning program is that my students and I have been sharing our nature observations, along with the excitement that comes with new discoveries and phenomena that capture our attention. Nature-related stories fill much of our live class meetings and often feature a child exclaiming, “Here – let me show you!” and taking the class along on her iPad to see the nest in her porch planter, a flower blooming, or a tree frog tucked under an edge of siding. Below are just a few of the photos students have shared from their homes and backyards.
Squirrel rescue, nests tucked into mailboxes and garage corners, eggs and hatchlings in many stages of development.
Strange rocks and lichens, animals showing up unexpectedly.
Flowers and trees with new leaves.
Gardening, birding on a bike, exploring streams.
And, one of my favorites: a slug drawing with slime.
For the first time since I’ve lived here, I’ve heard whippoorwills at dawn, seen an osprey carrying a fish to its nest, watched a wet raven preen and announce its presence at the top of a dead tree.
I’ve seen butterflies, fungi, birds, insects, and wildflowers that I knew lived here but had never before found or had the chance to photograph.
Each of these encounters – both mine and my students’ – feels like a gift from a world of biodiversity that still provides a safe haven for wonder.