The immediate observation was that spring had sprung in the three and a half weeks I was away. I came home to greener grass and budding trees and daffodils in full bloom. The duck also appeared to have returned, preparing her nest in the planter on the townhome’s deck where she had laid her eggs the previous two years (for the complete story see #oreganotheduck on Instagram and hit the recent tab to view in chronological order).
But spring this year is not what it appears. With warmer temperatures came park and beach closures due to “over-crowding.” An Easter basket was cobbled together with what could be found at Walgreen’s while venturing out to pick up an essential prescription. Running routes look like an EKG as we zig and zag to stay a safe distance from everyone else out there. Meetings, both personal and professional, are exclusively via Zoom.
A week after she built her nest, Oregano the Duck hasn’t returned to lay her eggs. Google said eggs come within one to three days after the nest is prepared. So, we’re assuming now that we’ve seen the last of her. Was she scared off by the dog? Or were there just too many people around now? Or was fate tested the minute Kurt created a page for her on his website last fall?
Thoughts of spring are all I had to navigate winter. I looked forward to that feeling of coming out of hibernation, of birth and renewal, of eggs and chicks, of meeting friends for runs or an al fresco meal, running races in shorts and singlets, of baseball games and road trips with the car top down. Now a month into the stay-at-home order, I begin to imagine the unimaginable: a summer that isn’t anything like summer.
So what do we do?
First, we change perspective. With spring, we also have longer days which can mean an opportunity for earlier runs before the streets get crowded. Zoom calls with family far away are something that should have been happening all along. The cancelled events and empty calendar are giving me an opportunity to slowly learn my new job. Not having a duck’s nest on our patio for the next month frees it up for morning coffee amid the sunshine and fresh air at a time when we probably need it most.
Next, cultivate gratitude…for what we’ve had and what we continue to have right now. Maybe that’s as simple as being thankful for a roof over our heads, a friendly voice at the other end of a phone, and memories of a life well-lived. Although for most of the people I know there’s so much more than that.
Finally, pivot from me to us, as John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” What can I do for the greater good? The answer to that may be simply being better at what we’re already doing.
When going out for essentials, be kind to the front-line staff who make that possible (here’s 19 Things You Need to Stop Doing to Grocery Store Workers in the Coronavirus Pandemic). Over-tipping when getting take-out or delivery feels great and let’s people know they’re appreciated. Non-profit organizations are hurting financially, so if you can, this is a good time to make a donation.
Yes, this spring is different. And this summer is going to be different, too. Although the difference we experience in ourselves – and ultimately share with others – may be the positive and lasting change we all need to live in a better world when this is all over.