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For the love of nature

During the darkest, longest days of lockdown, self-isolation, quarantine… whatever you call it… more and more of our neighbors found solace and comfort in the outdoors. 

Maybe it was a walk, a hike or perhaps a bike ride, but family and friends learned that there is something incredibly reassuring in the rhythms of the natural world. The predictability of the tides and the seasonal migration of birds, when compared to the unpredictability of a pandemic, created a sense of reliability and an enticement to a world where social distance was not a problem. 

Isolation from family and the grim reminders of the crisis on cable news, led many to explore places they had never been, and see and listen to the songs of birds that they could not identify. My own grandchildren, banned from the local playground, found joy in visiting the swans and ducks on the shores of the Connecticut River. 

Now that we have re-discovered these special places, let us care for them. 

We are fortunate to live in a region that has much to offer with a multitude of state parks and beaches, town-owned open spaces, and community-created land trust properties held in conservation. At Connecticut Audubon’s Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, we encourage contact with nature. In southeastern Connecticut, there are diverse ecosystems to explore, from upland forests to beaches to our rivers and estuaries. Outfitters provide kayaks and canoes for exploration and organizations such as ours will provide guided tours for small groups appropriately socially distanced. With public beach access limited this summer, explorations may be just what the doctor ordered and psyche needs. 

Yet, all our natural areas remain fragile to the whims of both man and the violent outbursts of nature. When you go, take only what you need and remove it when you leave. Some of our recent converts to nature have unfortunately marred the landscape with discarded water bottles, masks and other trash that is harmful to wildlife and unpleasant for those who follow. So, be kind; leave nothing behind! 

While our lives have not returned to “normal,” nature’s cycles are as normal as we can be in today’s world. The osprey fledglings are in the nest and the birds will remain until August or early September, when the female leaves her nest for a long journey to winter quarters. The male will follow sometime afterward. They do not winter together, but, if their journeys are safe, they will return to the same nest in March. God willing, by then we, too, will return to normal.

Claudia Weicker, chair of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Audubon Society's Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, lives in Old Lyme.


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