Authored by Erik Thomas
The COVID 19 crisis has compelled us to retreat to the solitude of our homes. Gone are the friendly gatherings at which we used to breathe in the rejuvenating aroma of the natural world together, the fellowship by which we bonded amid its restorative splendor. None of us can know at this point when this exilic state will end or whether it serves as a harbinger of the life that awaits us in the future.
Yet even as we stumble forward through the dark uncertainty of this abrupt alteration of reality, we should find solace in the fact that, though events have led us to retreat from the networks and activities that had sustained our minds, the outdoor life that fosters tranquility has not left us. Lacking the means for extensive outings, we nonetheless gain the time to contemplate the less conspicuous denizens of our abodes. Just beyond our front doors we may watch a pillbug scurry about under a stone or marvel at the intricate symmetry of violet petals on patches of earth that we had hitherto passed by carelessly. We can fathom how a great oak depends on miniscule mycorrhizae for its very livelihood, or take note of the varied colors of the lichens growing on the same oak’s bark. What seemed mundane before may now express its uniqueness to us. Where once we rushed to explore habitats in distant locales, now we can attune our ears to the catbird that beckons from the bushes with its chatty, prolonged music.
The necessity of adapting our perspective during this peculiar phase is not lost on the Wake Audubon Society. While we cannot proceed as we have previously operated, we have maintained the spirit of our mission and have acclimated to the limitations of the present. Our monthly programs continue as online Zoom presentations, with Ashley Dayer speaking on the effects of bird feeding in June and Mary Frazer on wildlife-friendly yards in July, as well as a slide show of photos by members in August. Bob Oberfelder’s album, “Nature of Bob,” grows steadily on Wake Audubon’s Facebook page. We have never ceased to advocate for wildlife, from Brown-headed Nuthatch boxes and Chimney Swift roosts to broader initiatives promoted by the National Audubon Society such as the Lights Out program. We even have a book club now, led by Mary Abrams, for those interested in reading about environmental topics. Regardless of disruptions, the Wake Audubon Society steadfastly perseveres as a link between people and nature.