Emotions during COVID19 - and my iNat activity...

"Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on."
~Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Someone sent me that quote, and I thought, "Oh, that's a nice quote" but then I really thought about it more and more and more and more, especially right now. I guess that's the nice thing about quotes -- we are allowed to interpret them however we want to. :)

To me, this quote is so appropriate for what we're going through right now. I will admit, I only know a few people that have COVID19 currently, but my parents are at high risk, and many folks that I know and deeply care about are high risk as well. It's a creepy amount of time that I've been thinking about other folks right now too! Each time I go outside, not only am I looking at the critters and plants, but I'm thinking about the people that have given me guidance on the ID's...or for whatever reason, I just think about these folks...

I'm extremely fortunate to be able to still go outside right now. Of course, I'm staying crazy careful -- I avoid touching anything that other people touch, I'm wearing a little fabric face mask, I go to places where others aren't, and I wash my hands like I've got OCD. So, I'm taking all of the precautions, I think. Yet it's spring, my absolute favorite time of year. The bugs are out, the birds are singing, and every single weed has a bloom on it. For my mental, emotional health and sanity, I just have to be outside. I bring iNat with me each time too -- to share observations with others, but also just to explore. With iNat, I can travel vicariously through other naturalists' observations, and some travel with me too.

I guess that's the kicker -- when I'm out exploring, by myself, I actually bring a lot of naturalists with me. I'm physical distancing, but also figuratively walking alongside lots of folks. And that's a good feeling. :)

Going back to the Mary Oliver quote, this time of quarantine, social fear and anxiety, has reminded me of my place on the planet. I'm here but for a nanosecond geologically, and I'm so freaking lucky to even glimpse at the fellow residents of the ecosystem. To learn their names is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

Anywho, hope everyone is staying safe, staying healthy, washing hands, and if you're able to, going outside just a little to look for a bug or two. :)

Posted by sambiology sambiology, April 04, 2020 22:38

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Sam,
I've thought of you every day, knowing how much you like to interact with people and share your absolute joy of discovery with others. As one of those in the high risk catergory, it's amazing what a dose of nature will do for the soul, lifting my spirits as I watch new bluebird parents bringing a morsel to their babies, photographing my first dragon fly of the year while making a game of it with myself as to which species it would be ( Variegated Meadowhawk) , and even watching a band of young wild pigs playing along the creek. There is always something to make me gaze in awe, I am very blessed.

Joy is out there!
Deborah

Posted by itmndeborah 4 months ago (Flag)
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Hi Sam. I don't 'know' you -- nor you me -- but I appreciate your words here. "...every single weed has a bloom on it. For my mental, emotional health and sanity, I just have to be outside." Yup. Perhaps wide open spaces is just what we need to snuff this virulent pandemic. (We all have a little OCD now. It's healthy, by golly.) Thanks for posting, and be well.

Posted by dirtnkids 4 months ago (Flag)
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Remembering what a people person you are and how much you have to have your daily nature fix, I know this is a difficult time for you. Kudos to you for taking the recommended precautions. Like Deborah and your parents, I am in the high risk group. So, I am being ultra cautious. I'm fortunate to have family who are doing the grocery shopping for me. I'm grateful that I live in a place where there is so much nature around me, even in my yard. I, too, enjoy traveling through the observations made by people in other cities, other states, and other countries. Take care of yourself and your precious wife. Love y'all!

Posted by suz 4 months ago (Flag)
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Yes, Sam, I think I share your angst.

It is so disappointing that so many awesome events and meetings I had been anticipating for months have been either cancelled or postponed indefinitely. I think, if it were not for iNat, I would be a basket case.
And, too, there are so many nooks and crannies on my own place yet to be explored. Now would be an opportune time to do it.

Thinking about everyone out there.

Posted by connlindajo 4 months ago (Flag)
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Sam, I can relate. It scares me to know there is a lot of naturalists in the age range where they're at higher risk, not to mention family and friends. It's good to get outside, and nature makes a good distraction.

Good luck to everyone.
TG

Posted by tgbirdnerd 4 months ago (Flag)
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Thanks for the post Sam. iNat is a great way to "be around" people, even when we can't be around people. As others have said, it's great to travel through others postings. Walking through my neighborhood yesterday, stopping to look at the plants around me, and putting them on iNat, made me part of a community, even though I was all alone out there. And it's a needed mental health break. I work in healthcare right in the mix of things. The plants, bird, and bugs go about their business unimpeded by our human crisis. It's a nice reminder that the world goes on. We will go on. And this too will pass.

Posted by texslm 4 months ago (Flag)
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Thank you for posting, Sam. I've been thinking of you too and many others who have enriched my life beyond belief. I'll keep exploring my yard and neighborhood, and logging iNat records so I can continue to contribute to our fellowship. I'm looking forward to the day when virtual hugs and handshakes are a memory.

Posted by troutlily57 4 months ago (Flag)
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Hey Sam. Thanks for this, it was a nice read on a Sunday morning. I think about you every time I open my iNaturalist app to snap a picture; I hope Sam sees this one, I hope he confirms it, he’ll correct it. With this little app I feel connected to a community and the world around me, I appreciate the smallest flower, the bugs, the stillness yet perseverance of nature. Stay safe my friend.

Michael

Posted by thnker10 4 months ago (Flag)
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Appreciate your thoughts, Sam. This situation has altered my perspective on so many things, and I appreciate my health, ability to pay for what we need, and family more than ever. I know several vulnerable folks, who are constantly on my mind. Nature has been a balm for my soul, and an escape from the fear I feel. I've made it a priority to get outside as much as possible, and I love the idea you posed that I have a community of naturalists alongside me. A quote I recently posted on our BPTMN Facebook page is by John Muir, "And into the forest I go, to lose my mind, and find my soul". Thank God the world goes on.

Posted by txstack 4 months ago (Flag)
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Oliver understood the natural world in a visceral way that most of us can relate to. Here's one for you Sam K:
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver

Posted by donyoung 4 months ago (Flag)
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Thank you for your thoughtful post. It captures many of the same feelings I am having now. We are in isolation in support of my 95 year old MIL Luckily I am able to get outside into nature - even if just in my back yard - for walks and to take in all the miraculous changes of spring. INaturalist is a wonderful forum for like-minded enthusiasts, and gives me hope for positivity of sharing information, expertise and friendships globally.
Take care!

Posted by chdonati 4 months ago (Flag)
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Thank you for sharing these thoughts; I find it helpful to think that the earth is actually healing (air & water quality, etc.) during our species down time.

Posted by franpfer 4 months ago (Flag)
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From my heart to yours. We all share the same air, air which has been breathed by all humans since we came to walk the Earth, We share the same water, which links us in a fluid web of rivers and creeks, all leading to the same communal ocean. My every step on the trails these days is a healing step, with the intent for easing the suffering on the planet and all its creatures.

Posted by amymoonlady 4 months ago (Flag)
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Sam, our little family is getting out into nature as well - thank goodness our Texas species aren't carrying covid and we can still do our favorite hobby! I'm trying not to let overhanging leaves hit me in the face as I'm walking - those leaves seem so innocent, but if they brush many people's faces...

Stay well everyone!

Posted by alisonnorthup 4 months ago (Flag)
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Everyday I look forward to my iNaturalist email of your findings. I don't venture as far as you but I can identify many more winter weeds during dog walks. Thank you for posting. Take care.

Posted by lmanduley 4 months ago (Flag)
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My grandparents are definitely in the higher risk, but they fortunately are very well prepared. I hope everyone can get out, even just around their house or apartment complex, to enjoy nature. I hope everyone makes it through this.
Keep observing!
Dan

Posted by scissortaildapper 4 months ago (Flag)
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On Friday, April 10th, I went to the Village Creek Drying Beds to do some birding and I-Natting. I can roam about and still practice “Social Distancing” with ease. After 3 hours I only saw two other people.
My target was a Least Grebe that had been reported and one of the people I met was kind enough to show me where to find it. We then parted and I went about admiring the beautiful plants, bugs, and birds, sending as many observations as possible to I-Naturalist.

In the center of the Drying Beds is a large mound of CR&P that everyone avoids because of the smell, but it’s great for birds. I am to the west of this mound watching some ducks on a pond. Most were Lesser Scaup, but one was different. It was a Common Goldeneye, a semi-rare bird for this area. I took several photos and was leaving when I noticed the friend and yelled at her about the Goldeneye. She made her way around the mound and I showed her where to find the duck. I then proceeded to go around the mound, taking the same route she had come. (She weighs about 100 lbs. and I weigh about 200 lbs.) I stepped on what looked like solid ground and promptly sank up to my thighs (about 6” above my knees), protecting my binoculars and camera, I managed to climb out and make my way around the hill of CR&P. I was covered in black sludge and even the flies wouldn’t land on me. I had to head straight home to get cleaned off.
I was parked across the main road at the park about a ¼ mile away so as I walked down the road to my car, I called a friend to tell her what had happened. When she stopped laughing, she said I should go immediately to Kroger’s for groceries. (I could see it on the 10 O’clock news, helicopters flying over the store as people were frantically running out screaming and the HAZMAT Team was entering). I drove home instead.
Once home, I went straight to the backyard and the compost area. I stripped off my clothes and hosed myself and the clothes off as well as possible then I jumped naked into the pool (it felt like -50 degrees). As I climbed out of the pool, my wife tossed a towel out of the back door then locked it. I begged her to let me in then I went straight to the hot shower. I spent the rest of the day doing laundry and cleaning my car. It now smells like rosemary from the sprigs I rubbed all over the seats and carpet.
As you can easily see, I have no problem with “Social Distancing.”

Posted by charley 4 months ago (Flag)
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@charley You just provided me with my laughter for the day. Loved your piece. Thanks for sharing with us. It really must have been unpleasant at the time. Happier iNat-ting on the next trip out.

Posted by connlindajo 4 months ago (Flag)
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I will show you fear in a handful of dust--Eliot

I woke up sick and keep getting sicker; most of my photos today were taken with a small macro lens in my yard because that's all I am physically up for. That said, holy cow the stuff I've found in my alley this week has been neat, and I want to find a way to get back up to Sherman w/out my kids. They're good kids, but a 5 year old and careful birding/herping/bugging aren't compatible. But I love taking them to a small neighorhood creek and looking for fish and bugs while they spash, or going to Cleburne or Hagerman with 'em and letting the younger look at butterflies while the older laughs at birds.

Posted by williampaulwhite17 4 months ago (Flag)
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@charley, that's hysterical! Thanks for a really good laugh!

Posted by annikaml 4 months ago (Flag)
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My attitude has adjusted. I have found so much to do on my place that I am almost dreading when my calendar is again filled up with meetings and appointments and trips. The only problem is keeping track of which day of the week it is, not that it really matters, but I do not want to miss the scheduled FB mothing with Sam on Sunday night!

Posted by connlindajo 4 months ago (Flag)

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