Like so many others, I’ve been taking a lot of walks lately. My walk, and getting the mail, have become the highlights of my day. In this, my quarantine life resembles my life when my first child was born. She came, too, in early March, and life slowed down enough that, for maybe the first time, I began to notice the progression of spring.
As I paraded up and down the Brooklyn blocks to get her to sleep or, more often, just to give myself something to do, I watched the world wake up, and I marked every flower. First the daffodils and forsythia, then the azaleas and the tulips. The magnolias gave way to the cherry blossoms. Finally, the rhododendron and the roses.
Here, we are lucky enough to leave near Meadow Creek, and this spring, with nowhere to go, I’ve watched the bare brown banks come slowly alive. I’ve noticed the first yellow wildflowers, lesser celandine (which a friend later informed me were invasive), and how the buttercups have shown up now, after the violets. My girls have been delighted by the preponderance of robins in the yard, the occasional flash of a bluebird. In the creek we’ve spotted lizards and snakes, and once, I swear, a turtle.
As cities around the world have seen how clean the air gets when auto and air travel drastically decrease, many people have also discovered a newfound connection to the natural world around them. That matters, because, while global emissions levels have dropped, they haven’t dropped enough.
To have any hope of mitigating the most disastrous effects of climate change, we will need to sustain much bigger shifts after the pandemic is over. So far, rational argument and evidence have failed to persuade the world to change. Perhaps remembering this time, when so many experienced nature as a source of solace and delight, will be what saves us.