After several weeks of shelter in place in South Florida, my husband and I decided to ride out the coronavirus pandemic at our mountain home in Helen,Georgia, as numbers of confirmed cases grew in Broward County. The mountains are less crowded, with beautiful spring weather and opportunities to spend time in nature abound. We loaded up our plane and waited for a good flying day. It turns out our timing was perfect, any other day may have left us stranded due to weather, a situation we needed to avoid.
When we arrived at our home, I immediately felt less anxiety and more relaxed. I felt like myself again as the situation in South Florida worried and stressed me out. I listened to birds sing off our back deck instead of helicopters flying overhead. Squirrels crunching on decomposing leaves replaced sirens screaming in the distance. I breathed fresh oxygen rich air, cool and crisp, rather than the thick humidity of the south.
I wanted to cry. I had been so emotionally on edge for what seemed like forever. Instead I said. “I feel better already. We are so lucky to have options.”
“Yes we are.” He agreed.
I found my new normal over the next few weeks. Running in the morning through our desolate little town center, side roads and nature trails. Yoga in the afternoon on the back deck, surrounded by nature. I use my iPhone to guide me through my practice, with videos posted by the studio I attend. Fighter jets from a nearby military training area even flew overhead one day, adding a bit of excitement to my flow. I spotted a red fox in the distance while in tree pose.
My husband has home improvement projects to keep him busy. We just built our house last year, leaving several tasks unfinished. He cut and fertilized the grass, planted more trees, stained wood, built shelves for his tools and a framed our fireplace. It’s an ongoing list but now has the time to complete them.
One day he called me out back. “Come here.”
A large bird attacked a tree off our deck. “What is that? A woodpecker?”
“Yeah. The largest one I’ve seen.”
I found new recipes and dinners to make. We went to grocery store to stock up, a first for me in a month. We both had masks and gloves and followed the arrows of which way to go up and down. It felt good to pick out food, although I think many items were overpriced, especially the produce. I had a list for most things, then a random note to buy drinks and frozen food.
In the evening my husband noticed something through a side window. “Bears.”
“They’re so quiet.” I whispered.
They looked in the trash can, picked through it. Then checked out our golf cart, sniffed around and left. Three of them, a momma and two cubs I imagined. Although they all looked pretty big. Our dog didn’t even know they were outside, she usually hears and smells everything, then barks like crazy.
We are fortunate to have access to hiking trails and golf. We learned that federal trails are closed but state parks open. I personally think all outdoor activities should be accessible. It’s a great way to escape and find tranquility and peace in our current world. Something we all need. Please find nature, love, compassion, health and hope during this difficult time, and reach out to those that need the same.