The quarantine is making all of us naturalists
Whether we recognize it or not, we’re all paying more attention to nature right now.
A friend of mine is a self-identified indoor person who generally avoids rain, bugs, and any discomfort associated with the outdoors. A high school history teacher in Scranton, Pennsylvania, she is now ‘home’ in quarantine with her family in the Hudson Valley. Her parents own a restaurant, so between the food, the company, and the locale – I would say she is in the right place. Her work-from-home desk is situated in the picture window at her childhood home where she is making many discoveries.
My prediction: she will be a nature lover yet.
In late March, we both found ourselves working from home and, at the time, home alone. We talk often: virtual coffee at 8:30 am or, our favorite, virtual tea time at 3pm. We talk about our worries of the day or encourage a new online shopping habit. A month later, our quarantine situations are less lonely, but we still talk most days. Now as we talk, I also learn about all the goings-on from the picture window:
The family of deer. The fox described as mangey (“is it ok?”). The usual suspects: squirrels, blue jays, crows, red-tailed hawks, cardinals, grackles. The neighbor’s dog that gets loose to urinate on her lawn.
Example of mange in what we think is a coyote. Image from a trail cam set by the Tarrytown Nature Girls
Finally, we decided it was time we saw each other in person. On a recent sunny day, I went to “social distance” in my friend’s front yard. I pulled up and there she was in the picture window. We sat in the front yard armed with gloves and disinfecting wipes so we could pour the bottle of wine in our respective glasses; the bottle of wine situated as the third point of our 6ft+ triangle. While in the front yard we heard some weird noises and when we looked up there were four birds. After studying for a moment, I pointed out that it looked like it was the crows loudly pestering two red-tailed hawks.
My friend, the not-nature-lover said, “I bet everyone is noticing things more, things we don’t usually: every day a different tree or flower is blooming and, although my allergies don’t like it, it’s cool to see.”
We looked at each other knowingly and I said, “I already noticed those things.” Realizing she knew that was the case, she nodded in agreement. Quarantine and a friend from Teatown will make her a naturalist yet.
About the Author
Marie is an environmental educator at Teatown, with a focus on Hudson River programming. She leads field trip programs and coordinates volunteers to encourage environmental stewardship.