No Corona in the woods

Canada geese northbound on an evening sunset.The direction is “social distancing,” which seems to be defined as staying out of crowds and at least six feet away from any individual persons. No one but me has been in my car in a couple weeks, so …

A few evenings ago, well after the pandemic had been declared but before shoppers locally had begun hoarding toilet paper, I was finishing a project for the Resident Interior Decorator and found myself in need of a wood chisel. I had one, once, but it apparently became lonesome and ran away from home.

Thinking to share some financial love with a local business, I drove to the nearby hardware store, which doubles as a guns and ammo store. The firearms portion of the establishment was filled with customers.

“Are you expecting a big event?” I asked one young fellow as he finished paying and picked up his case of ammo. “I hope not,” he replied.

I mentioned the crowd of customers to the clerk who took my money for the chisel.

“With all that’s going on, they’re stocking up on ammunition,” she said.

No trees have yet been accused of stealing toilet paper or transporting illicit coronavirus that has us humans so frightened. I drove to my favorite relaxation location – any place where the nearest house is at least a quarter mile away, across a field or forest, preferably invisible.

I’m sitting in the car, trusting that it did not go out on its own last night to party with strangers. In the surrounding wetlands – minor depressions filled with waterlogged roots and cattails – Red-winged blackbirds announce their presence, a few tentative calls at a time. They are the scouts; the main tribe has not yet arrived.

At the top of a nearby bush, partially hidden in the web of budded branches, a solitary Red-wing looks over his domain. Bored with his solitude, he jumps to a more open vantage and issues a call to any young lady interested in collecting amorous verses. Hearing none, he flits back to a lower branch and regains his post.

At the far end of the pasture, a bird races across the view, too far to identify. Likely an accipiter of some sort, maybe, but too light-colored to be a Red-tailed hawk. A fellow photographer drove up, stopped to ask through his window whether I had seen the harrier, and drove off.

The distinctive rumble of a Yellow-winged Stearman biplane grows louder over the north ridge. It turns a few cartwheels over the pasture before returning whence it came. The air once again quiet, a Mourning Dove calls to a mate.

Cardinals are in the backyard, and I got a picture of about two dozen robins aerating my neighbor’s lawn, poking among the grass blades for worms.

But no bluebirds, or mockingbirds … yet.

So far (it is Wednesday evening as I write these thoughts), there is no coronavirus reported in our county, but it is to our east and north. Right now, we seem OK just staying away from each other, but there is no telling how long that will last.

Meanwhile, I will wander in the woods as often as I can, self-dosing copious amounts of “woods therapy.”  A study out of Stanford University, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, reported people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area saw significant reduction in depression.

So if you see me out in the forest, wave. I’ll know, even without talking or shaking hands, we are sharing some of the best medicine there is.

 

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