Some of us are slowly emerging from the ravages of the virus that took over our world. Some of us might still be knee deep in it and staying at home. My family and I have been in a stay at home situation since early March, for the most part. One thing that helps me keep my sanity and stay positive is my time spent communicating with nature in one way or another. It is probably the same for most of us, citizens of our beautiful world.
Have you noticed that more wildlife is roaming our neighborhoods? They must be hooraying with joy for getting back their habitat that we humans are constantly encroaching on. As we have hunkered down within our four walls, the animal world is out there celebrating their freedom. My husband and I love walks in the early hours of morning or in rays of the setting sun. It’s always a pleasure to come upon some bird, animal, or even a reptile suddenly. Of course, we check each other out with initial fear. First, we watch each other, and I try to quickly pull out my phone to click a photograph. And then we will give each other a wide berth, each giving the other the respect and space by going our separate ways. It’s hard to get good quality pictures with the phone without getting close to the animal, but I try with enthusiasm. We have come across, deers, red foxes, woodchucks, painted turtles, a coyote (luckily we were in the car) and may be what we think was a muskrat. Garter snake has slid by us a couple of times to my horror! People in my town have come across even black bears and bobcats.
The Seek App, or iNaturalist App to check who is who when I encounter them on my walks. The App wants you to get a clear shot for it to name the animal, but it is often hard to get a clear shot. I have to admit I haven’t had much success with it.
When we have our morning coffee, the routine is to watch the birds feasting at our bird feeder. We can put aside our phones and all the bad news and havoc created by COVID. We relax with the bird songs and laugh at their antics. One of the easy pastimes for me is to stand at my glass door and watch the feeding frenzy that goes on at the feeder. Here are some of the Apps I have been using to recognize the species.
Audubon: In this App you have to describe the the bird you saw. I was impressed with the accuracy of this App in identifying the birds.
Merlin Bird ID App. This App is offered by Cornell Lab of Orinthology. I use their website allaboutbirds.org. Picture Insect: Bug identifier.
Another wonderful activity that makes me forget all our troubles is to enjoy seeing the variety of flowers, plants, and trees while on our walks. Each and every plant and tree has become a friend. Now I recognize if a tree has lost a limb or a new shoot is sprouting. There they are standing firm with their leaves shaking gently in the morning breeze. Looking at a flower here and watching a sprout there, one forgets the craziness that surrounds us. I have become a passionate photographer of flowers in the process. In our technology savvy world, naming a flower or a tree is no longer a challenge. I pull out my phone to learn the names and recognize the trees. I remember when I moved here first I tried figuring out the names with books. It was tough.
App to use: Picture This. I love this App and depend on it a lot. Plantsnap App. Plant identification++.
Two years prior to the madness that started with COVID, my life was a whirlwind – traveling continuously, rushing from one place to the next. The sudden unexpected break was difficult. The plans of vacation to Kenya had to be dropped. A trip to India to see family was canceled. In the early days of forced stay at home in March the weather was still cold, and it was too cold or snowy to step out for a walk. I managed my stress and anxiety caused by COVID with a class in positive thinking through meditation and even a Happiness through Mindfulness class. Sitting indoors, gazing through the glass we saw the arrival of spring in all its glory. As our surroundings transformed with cheerfulness and colorfulness, we started stepping out for long walks. The dark mood lifted. Communication with nature is all that was needed to be mindful and positive.
Stay safe and keep others safe. Wear a mask.