The treacherous ice of winter is long gone from the landscape of Topsmead, and spring cleaning is springing, assisted by the Friends of Topsmead. Janet Blauvelt is cleaning the bluebird boxes to welcome their new inhabitants. Caroline King is preparing the butterfly garden to welcome its new fluttering visitors. However, a new treacherous natural event—Covid-19—has overtaken not just our local environment but also the entire globe.
Who knew that the life as we knew it would be closed down by this virus? As it has expanded to become a worldwide pandemic, states of emergency are begging people to “shelter in place” and “Stay Safe, Stay Home.” Schools have closed....Places of worship have closed....Non-essential businesses have closed....Hospitals, overcrowded with patients whose lives are threatened by this virus, have closed to visitors.
Who knew that life would go remote because of this virus? People are Zooming, Skype-ing, FaceTiming, Google Meet-ing, and Houseparty-ing. Education is now delivered remotely, sermons are now delivered remotely, connecting with family and friends is now accomplished remotely, and musicians are now collaborating remotely.
Who knew that doing errands would be an isolating experience? Grocery shoppers and employees now wear face-masks. Shopping aisles now have one-way arrows taped on the floors, no passing allowed. Restaurants and pet food stores now have curbside pickup payable by credit card over the phone. Waiting in line and walking down sidewalks is now socially distanced, and centers of towns and main streets are echoingly empty.
Who knew that our state parks and forests would become destinations and places of comfort for so many? The dilemma is to find the line between welcoming visitors to the regenerative power of Nature and complying with the social distancing required during this pandemic. Please know that, according to DEEP, Topsmead is open for socially distanced walking, but when the parking lot is full, no parking along the roads and no walk-ins will be allowed.
Who knew that the Give Local campaign organized by the Connecticut Community Foundation for the Greater Waterbury and Litchfield Hills would be so timely? On April 21 and April 22, you can join in celebrating Earth Day (remotely, of course!) by making a gift (online of course!!) to Friends of Topsmead State Forest. Watch your emails for when and how to donate. Your gift will help FTSF develop a remote alternative for the “Lectures on the Lawn” program and will help in the continued maintenance of such Friends’ projects as the bluebird boxes and the butterfly garden. Your gift will support the regenerative power of Nature at Topsmead.
William Chaucer knew way back in the 14th century that the power of Nature was regenerating. In his General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, he celebrates Nature’s irrepressible energy and unstoppable power to generate new life:
When that April with his showers sweet
The drought of March has pierced to the root,
And bathed every vein in such liquor,
Of which strength the flower is engendered...
And small birds make melody,
That sleep all the night with open eyes.
We should know that amongst this coronavirus darkness, the fellow feeling of humanity is shining forth: that from Italy to New York people are applauding; that bells in Goshen and the five boroughs of Litchfield are ringing nightly. And that Topsmead remains serenely healing to the soul.
We should know that the world will move past this coronavirus cycle of darkness and into a new cycle of life, perhaps even better than what came before.