Time and isolation: here’s our response

In our previous life, we traveled.  Month after month.  Country after country.  And then, it was over.  Everyone asks, “Do you miss it?”  It’s complicated to answer.

We loved our walks every day on our travels through varying landscapes. We hiked through archaeological ruins in Cambodia and a few months later in Greece.

One month we might be found strolling a sandy beach in New Zealand (photo) and a few months later in Zanzibar.

Fast forward to self-isolation in the time of coronavirus, where afternoons are spent hiking in the woods.  Our minds are free floating as we live in the present, listening to birds calling and watching the contours of the path ahead. Then it strikes us that we are now back to the life we knew and loved as we traveled.  We are on our own.  When we traveled, our isolation came from months and years of traveling through places where we knew no one and often not speaking the same language.  Now our isolation comes from COVID-19.

We hike for miles in the Kendal woods and meadows on our own, only occasionally glimpsing other walkers.

The woods encourage our involvement, not with other people, but in observing the environment around us with all our senses.

We have observed white-tailed deer, fox, possum, a woodchuck. Painted turtles slide off a log in the pond when we approach.

Toads jump out of our way on the path as we walk by – frogs into Scotts Pond, too.

And there are always birds to observe.  Most of our time is watching, hearing, smelling.

Nothing stays the same in the woods.  When self-isolation started, the woods were a bare hint of green.  With each day came more greenery, more flowers, and migrating birds.

Some plants were familiar, but most were not.  We started using Plant Snap, an app for plant identification, to discover the names of the many flowers we didn’t know.

From childhood days, we knew the little “violet”-colored violets – but had no idea how many different violets there are – like this Striped Cream Violet (Viola striata).  In Pennsylvania alone there are 9 species of white and 34 species of blue violets.

We have always loved our walks, but, during our many years of endless travel, those daily walks took on a new dimension.  Sometimes we had a destination, but often we just took off exploring.  The vistas were often grand but not always.  Mostly we just rambled and observed, with every walk adding to our memory bank of the interesting places we visited.   This is how we remembered each destination: by walking many miles past its most common and spectacular places.

Now we are here at Kendal.  The coastlines and ruins are in our past.  Our walks have taken on a new dimension which is surprisingly satisfying and the images from the woods drop into our memory banks.



June 2020


About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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13 Responses to Time and isolation: here’s our response

  1. David says:

    We have also found comfort with walks in the woods in the midst of covid-induced isolation. By dumb luck, we live in Arlington Forest and our house backs up on a natural area with a stream that flows over granite that’s been around for 320 million years. The Japanese call such walks “forest bathing.”

  2. Ahh – here it is! This is exactly what I was wondering about in my last comment, without knowing it was already done, and wonderfully so. Though not nearly in your travel category, Bruce and I are enormously grateful that we did what we did in the last several years. Now, it seems prophetic, but it was really just dumb luck. I look forward to more of your woods. It’s a calming walk, looking close and getting to know the surroundings. Many thanks – Susan

  3. Beautiful observations of the natural wonders of a long hike, my favorite activity in NYC. Just take off in Any direction.

  4. How lovely for you to have this beautiful area right on your doorstep. I think we’re all appreciating what we have close to hand a bit more these days.

  5. Virginia Pusey says:

    A masterpiece, Beth. Thank you for sharing the depths of your heart. Ginny

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. Gretchen T Hall says:

    Well said!

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