The full ‘Nature notes in lockdown’ article first appeared in the Autumn 2020 issue of our magazine, Root & Branch.
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Sshhh the planet is resting by Alison Elliott
Whilst we have been so busy in lockdown, trying to sort out new ways of living and how to help our families, nature has been freed from its usual state of perpetual lockdown. I have seen unusual things, even in my small urban Southampton environment. A woodpecker in a front garden by a normally very busy main road. Bats in the back garden in an unusually silent dusk. Sparrows nesting in our bird box for the first time. In ordinary times, these creatures have to lockdown to survive our disturbance without us even realising – fitting in where we allow, and avoiding our interruptions and insensitive intrusions.
Could there actually be a different and even positive outcome from the Covid-19 situation? Time in lockdown might encourage people to think about how the planet carries so many of the burdens that human pressures and activities normally impose on it. Could our response to the Covid-19 crisis be the start or part of our ‘creation care’ journey? Let us be glad, very glad, that for this short time the planet could breath, rest, rejuvenate and excel at all it does best.
Refreshment by quiet waters by Natalie Clark
With my husband working long hours as a key worker, I found myself working from home whilst homeschooling my two children. We walked through the forest to the river each day during those first months, noticing the daily changes and getting to know the best places to look for deer and squirrels.
I cherished these daily “Boris walks” in creation, a time to forget about the struggles and isolation of lockdown and appreciate how much we have. The children would play, and I would sit with God at the water, and feel the spirit refreshing my soul and their presence with me. Psalm 23:2-3 spoke clearly to me during this time “he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul”. These walks and the daily pause, by the river seemed to give me energy and life and continue to do so.
Witnessing something special by Andy Lester
I was on my daily walk in my local wood. Above the cacophony of garden warblers, blackcaps, chiff chaffs, firecrests, willow warblers and the cry of a distant red kite was the unmistakable “prruup” of a bee eater. I ran 50 metres and was rewarded with the sight of a hawking adult bee eater. Its pastel blue underparts, bright yellow throat and tail streamer were visible as it circled above my head. A few short flaps and then a glide as it skillfully mastered the warm air currents hunting flies and solitary wasps. Bee eaters are one of those species that take no skill to find – just lots of luck; and clearly this was one of those rare moments where my visit perfectly coincided with a real Hampshire gem on my local patch.
Ascending to God (slowly) by Hannah Persaud
At the beginning of lockdown, I found myself unreasonably resentful at herding my unpredictable 20-month-old out of the front door for the daily walk outside. I was desperate to exercise, but my jogs had had to take a back seat due to the restrictions, and ashamedly, I was not feeling gracious about that.
Suddenly, an ear-piercing “HELLO!” made me jump. My little boy was waving with manic enthusiasm to an ant. As I crouched down beside him a wave of curiosity and fascination swept over me. We watched the ant in companionship for several minutes, and then another “WOW!” – as a ladybird appeared on my son’s elbow and walked over his chubby little arm. He giggled and winced, unsure what he was feeling.
He’d never seen a ladybird fly before, so when the glossy shell separated, revealing that winged petticoat, and flickered away, his surprise was infectious. Later he recounted the incident in gestures and noises that had the whole family enthralled, and caused older siblings to research ladybird facts.
It took a wise toddler to teach me not to throw away my only outside time by rushing past God’s creation in pursuit of a new PB. Thanks to my kids for re-showing me that you need a child-like approach to be ready to experience God absolutely everywhere.