Recently, there was this short moment right after I woke up that I came to relish. It was that moment of forgetting the pandemic. I would wake, be aware that I was in my bed, and for a treasured thirty seconds, still swimming in sleep and dreams, I would be blissfully unaware of the world’s condition. This week, that moment disappeared. Now I wake up, and I know exactly what’s going on. In fact, in my dreams I know what’s going on as well. I have dreams of seeing friends and hugging them, and I am suddenly filled with dread that I did. Soon, my dreams will be distanced as well.
We all have our coping mechanisms: one person cleans furiously, someone else works out. My escape is still to walk. When I can, I try to go to a preserve to walk. When I can’t, I go for a walk down by the pond. I feel extremely lucky to have this pond. It’s not quite a half of an acre, but it’s amazing how alive it is. When we moved in, it was stripped of any shrubs around it. We’ve let it go somewhat wild, and it’s since become a home for an incredible amount of wildlife. There are snakes, muskrats, painted turtles and their babies who sun on rafts of algae, peepers, wood frogs, bullfrogs, and fish. It receives visits from ducks, herons, deer, turkeys, and coyotes. I’m sure there’s more animals that I haven’t seen explicit signs of, such as raccoons, opossums, and foxes. And of course, there are many, many birds that live in the alder, red twig dogwood, and elderberry bushes now crowding the perimeter.
This chilly morning there was only time for a pond walk. I walked down the hill, and small flakes of snow fell almost imperceptibly from large clouds scudding over the sun. I passed so many things on my short walk: mica cap mushrooms under the silver maple, grape hyacinths dotting the grass, dandelions still closed to the overnight cold, white and purple violets, ramps that I’ve planted over the years alongside the stream, the closed white buds of plum and apricot trees, and the furry leaf buds of the quince trees right by the pond. Last fall, I decided to spend more time around the pond, as I had neglected it for the past year or two. I didn’t know how prescient that thought was!