In these days of mask-wearing and social-distancing, I marvel at how the natural world continues on its steady, abiding, sustaining course. Buds burst, bulbs push up through the earth. The sun warms; the rains come; the night wind blows, mysterious as always; and the grass slowly greens up.
It reminds me of times when I’ve experienced a life-changing loss. My world feels shattered. Yet I look around and life carries on around me as if nothing had happened — as if nothing had changed. It’s a jarring experience, and a lonely one.
Here, now we’re in the midst of a shared, human experience of separation, fear, and deep dislocation. It’s at once an individual and a communal experience. All of humankind is touched. And yet the earth and all the rest of her occupants carry on as if nothing has changed. (And yes, the dogs are overjoyed. But the cats are definitely annoyed.)
And the earth herself? Well, she seems to be thriving as human activity has ground to a halt worldwide. Carbon emissions are down but there’s no guarantee they’ll stay that way. In fact, if we look at history, they usually go even higher once whatever has shut them down gets resolved (e.g. WW II). Still, one can see hope here. And with an election coming, there’s the additional hope that we put leaders in place who are capable of long-range thinking about sustainability.
Here in my little world, I was on the edge of my seat watching Maddow while the pink supermoon rose, and the clouds pretty thoroughly diffused its light. The rhubarb churns up through the ground as it always does, looking wild and a bit out of control and also, just so enhuberantly hopeful.
But the very best thing was seeing, on Monday a fox who’s been a frequent visitor, peering around the back corner of the garden shed. She’s a beauty, the color of reddish, sunlit honey with a gloriously bushy tail. As she stepped out into the light we saw, trailing behind her, four (or maybe even five) little earth-toned kits! They tumbled and played in the grass and looked to be about the size of guinea pigs.
Off and on, we watched them through the day. Mama would go off into the underbrush at the edge of the field, or over into the neighbor’s field, hunting for mice (we’re guessing). I had the best view from my room, and was thoroughly distracted, as the little ones gamboled about near the shed and Mama ran back and forth, ever-vigilent.
Yesterday I was at work, but the report was that there were no fox sightings. Now we’re wondering if Monday was a magical aberration, or if we’ll get to watch these kits grow up (as we’d been hoping). Either way, I take the sighting as just one of the strange gifts of this coronavirus era. As our worlds shrink, they also expand in unexpected ways.
Zoom meetings and smiles from strangers help as we navigate our strange new terrain. And ‘fox and friends’ takes on a happy new meaning for me, signifying resilience and hope, even here, even now.