Reflecting on 2020

What a memorable blur of a year. Some days and weeks slid by without events to mark them. Other days, especially holidays, birthdays, milestones, and anniversaries, stand out for their stark contrast to past celebrations.

Now the weather is getting colder, it takes a little more effort to get out the door for a therapeutic dose of nature. It is worth it!

Beauty is everywhere ephemeral. This year nature put on especially good displays in the garden, in the forest, and on the lake.

Probably, we were just more aware of the show, being on lockdown. The whitetail deer fawns arrived on schedule, and in the fall we spotted a larger buck we hadn’t seen before. The wrens and swallows that favor certain spots raised their fledglings in the spring.

Hordes of geese descended, swam, and took flight. Epic splashdowns. Honking battles. Show offs standing around and chatting on top of the thinnest ice. They are very self-important, these guys. Occasionally, a couple of mallards brave the edges of the lake. The reticent wood duck family made appearances once or twice.

There is a particular dead tree where the juvenile bald eagles roost for a few days after their parents kick them out and before they find their own territory. Red-tail hawks and Cooper’s hawks were more common, likely in part due to the proliferation of backyard vegetable gardens in 2020.

This led in turn to a proliferation of squirrels and opossums. Less so, racoons (too crafty) and rabbits (too delicious to predators, apparently). We only saw foxes a few times.

Hooting owls all over the place. I learned that it is usually a pair of owls. The male and female hoot to each other. Now whenever I hear one, I listen for the other.

I am still just beginning to learn the names of the various flora. It could take my whole life, and that just in the North American part of the world that I love so much.

One of the things I really enjoyed this year was the friendliness of the neighborhood. We have amazingly kind neighbors on all sides, really. This is not something you can buy. It is not something you can know until you live in a place.

In a rather contentious year in the broader political landscape, people were stuck at home more.

Not having lived in a neighborhood per se growing up, and then having lived in small apartments and for a year, a rented room in someone else’s house, as a young adult; the neighborhood still feels a little novel to me. I think it always will, in the same way that winter, true cold, and the far North will always fascinate me, having grown up in the desert Southwest.

So, people were stuck at home more. But with the daily grace of living in a place where taking walks outside is a practical thing to do, even during the days of full lockdown.

And so we began to know our neighbors more. We had met our immediate neighbors, but now we started to know almost the whole neighborhood by sight and to say hello to.

You would just smile to see your neighbors. A break in the monotony of isolation. We were all feeling the strain.

Life is a bit bleak right now.

We are still hunkering down.

We are not back to normal.

We are not sure about the new normal.

But this, too, shall pass.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Dr. Maya Angelou

We will not forget how you made us feel, 2020.

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