PLENTY SUMMER 2020 | Page 39

open space Nature and the New Normal by Jennifer Scully I was driving down Boonsboro Mountain Road towards Boonsboro, Maryland to deliver groceries to my 89-year-old grandfather in early April. It was the first time I had left our farm in two weeks. The grass was turning green and the buds of the trees were just announcing their arrival. Going up and down that country road made my heart sing. Those worries about sickness, job, family melted away. As I cruised through the quiet neighborhood near Grandpa’s house, I saw an even more hopeful sight. It was kids on their bikes. They were pedaling around a vacant lot rimmed with trees and littered with rubble and shrubs. No parents in sight and they looked happily immersed in their own world—a world I can only hope was filled with imaginary play and exploration. It reminded me of what my childhood was like, exploring the world beyond our yard with friends to build forts in the mountain laurel or collect tadpoles. As the drive and days have past, I keep seeing those kids. They are in our parks hiking with their families, installing beehives three houses down from ours, and planting bee balm in their very own container garden on a patio in full sun. These are all pieces of light coming through a dark and uncertain time. Nature is providing us solace during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And while we all are yearning to leave this crisis behind us, there may be habits and practices that are worth continuing into the new normal. Growing Plants If you have ventured into a gardening center or perused your social media feed lately, you’ll know people are really into planting stuff right now. There is nothing more hopeful than a flower. Taking the time to plant a tree or start a garden is an investment in the future. You can start small by getting a container and planting host or nectar plants for native pollinators. Container gardens work great for homes that may not have access to a yard. Online resources are available at Black Hill Nature Programs and the North American Native Plant Society to help you get started. Have you considered growing your own food? Greens like lettuce, spinach and kale are super easy to grow and offer a delicious, nutritious learning experiment for kids. Seeds are widely available and can be started in small containers if needed. Check out our Black Hill Nature Facebook page for posts on how to grow a garden from kitchen scraps. Observing Wild Things On my daily walks down the road from our house, I’ve been able to watch a pair of geese evolve into a feathered family of five. Then sadly, it became a family of four. Are they swimming on the pond? How many babies are there today? Looking every day to see the geese has allowed me to feel a part of their world. What tiny wonder have you observed during quarantine? How has this made you feel? In Richard Louv’s new book “Our Wild Calling”, he writes about the idea of “species loneliness,” first coined by author Michael Vincent McGinnis. McGinnis is quoted saying, “Species loneliness in a wounded landscape moves us to want to restore our relationship with place and others, or to put it another way, modern humanity yearns to plenty I summer growing 2020 39