By Sydney Lucia
Like many others, my husband and I hunkered down as if the virus were a late winter snow storm with its slippery promises of ice and sleet. I figured it’d be over in two weeks, just an extended snow-poclaypse like the one we experienced when we lived in DC. We’re introverts, we reasoned; it won’t be a problem.
While our lives shrank inside, endless opportunities stretched before me to fill the blank space. I warmed the apartment with cinnamon buns, commandeered the coffee table for puzzles, and stretched my hamstrings into once-impossible yoga poses. The new routine suited me well: yoga in the morning, lunchtime walks with my dog, and working on my writing in the evenings.
Between the incredulity of Cloroxing everything in reach, I found the magic of nature unfurl before my eyes. The wild backwoods of Vermont and New Hampshire became my refuge from the downward news spiral looping in the back of my mind.
“Where are we going next weekend?” I’d ask my husband, both of us tired from the day’s drive and hike.
Armed with the All Trails app and an enthusiasm that only self-isolation can create, we drove hours to secluded state parks. On Owl’s Head Mountain, the rolling Green Mountains robbed me of breath, while the placid waters of Silver Lake calmed my anxious mind. From the hardscrabble CCC trail of Calvin Coolidge State Park, the virus seemed like an impossibility. Blessed with so many wild spaces to choose from, the Upper Valley felt like the safest place on earth.
Closer to home, the alchemy of spring took hold in the bare branches that budded overnight. Previously pressed to catch the bus to work, I had once caught the changing seasons from a moving window. Now with a dog bored by our work-from-home life, our daily walks revealed a small but enchanting world. While my dog rifled through old leaves unburied by the melting snow, I studied the budding trees. It seemed impossible that leaves could unfold from such tiny knots. I examined the intricate origami of the flowering buds with a slow fascination I had rarely experienced.
Winter coats gave way to sweatshirts, and in an unbelievable melting of time, I found myself unearthing long-forgotten shorts.
With the warming air, my desire rose to see other people in person — outside the Brady Bunch boxes of Zoom. Witnessing milestones like 30th birthdays and weddings through the detached video format didn’t feel quite real. Life, I learned, cannot be celebrated through a screen. You just have to be there.
Walking in the celestial evenings of late August, the first hints of autumn float on the breeze, if you listen just right. That’s what’s changed for me: learning to listen for the quiet magic of nature. With another change of season on the horizon, I’m all ears.
Sydney Lucia is enjoying the Upper Valley life after spending seven years in the big city. She writes, hikes, and bakes with her husband and beloved chihuahua, Brownie.