The pains of a pandemic spring and the new possibilities emerging

Winter was long and spring was rainy.  The stress connected to Covid-19 made those gloomy spring days nearly intolerable.  Normally a rainy April is a time to enjoy the coziness of those last days of planning and prep before garden and yard and outdoor fun bursts into nonstop action.  But I learned this year that, at least for me, rain + pandemic = despair.  All to say, this stretch of warm(ish), sunny(ish) weather that finally feels like spring has been a LONG time coming and is so very welcome.

And what a spring here in Maine!  Or is it just a spring that with so many other options limited, I can settle into and enjoy more deeply and intentionally?  Or that feels even brighter and greener in contrast to those earlier gray days that had such weight in our current context?  Perhaps a combination of all.  In any case, this is surely the time when concepts like hope, possibility, and growth are played out each and every day in the landscape around us.

Every day, there is a new color in the form of a flower or bird, deeper greens in emerging leaves and perennials, and more depth of sound as birds, frogs, and insects add their songs to the mating chorus.  Every day, on the same dog walk loop I’ve walked literally hundreds of times in the woods behind the house, I see something new.

Walk with the explicit intention to notice growth.  Or possibility.  Or transformation.  Or hope.  Or resilience.  Or whatever calls to you.

Choose one word/concept that feels relevant to you, in this moment, today.  One is plenty.  It might be something you aren’t feeling at all but wish you did.  It might be something you notice in yourself and want to expand or deepen.  For example, walking with the intention of noticing growth this morning, I noticed…

  • a fascinating slime mold that I’m pretty sure wasn’t there before
  • beech leaves, still young and tender, but so clearly leaves instead of buds or buds turning into leaves
  • ferns in various stages of uncoiling, each species unpacking itself a little differently
  • little woodland wildflowers opened in the last couple days, adding color to the forest floor
  • growth in the the ends of branches and tips of trees, all longer and taller than last year
  • stream full of insects seeking food along the water’s surface, supporting their own growth
  • so many busy birds, likely seeking mates as well as shelter, and food to grow their families
  • moss growing thickly over stumps

I also noticed my brain’s chatter settling as it turned its focus outside and towards the search.  I noticed how easy it became to find examples of growth once I’d trained my system to it.  I noticed my body and mind felt softer.  Gentler.  Easier.

Deepening the practice

If the walk and the noticing feels like enough for you, fantastic.  There is no reason to do more.  (Really, there isn’t.  This is only about what feels right and complete for you in the moment and there is ZERO judgement about what that process is.)  If you wanted to explore a little further, consider trying one or more of the following…

  • spending some extra time with a particular being that provides a strong example of your concept.  Observe it closely, using all your senses, paying attention to what traits are promoting your concept.  Don’t worry about the actual science if you don’t know it, just use your imagination.  (For example, in terms of growth, the beech leaves slow emergence may allow the leaves time to adapt to being out in the world.  The new leaves are soft and much more pliable than mature leaves–maybe so that they can move more easily in the wind and the rain as they build up their strength.  The leaves in the sun are emerging more quickly than those in shade.  They are out earlier than many other leaves–maybe to give the others a chance to emerge before they are shaded out?)
  • asking yourself if there is anything in what you observe that feels applicable to your own life at this time
  • using all your senses to create a mental image of your example that you can recall at a later time.
  • asking the being your are observing what it knows about the concept you are working with
  • you may want to repeat walks with the same intention, discovering what you notice differently each time.  Spring is an especially powerful time to work with repetition.

Offering Appreciation

However you engage, don’t forget to take a few moments to offer your gratitude and appreciation to the landscape and all the beings that offered you such powerful living examples of what you were seeking.  Expressing gratitude is the right thing to do for any relationship.  As a fantastic side effect, a regular practice of gratitude has a strong link to increased well-being.