Written May 2020
Watching Wellington waddle and hop along, I find myself smiling as baby Annik looks at him through the glass. The two come from such different parts of the world, and theirs was a meeting neither could have imagined nor expected. Wellington was on a field trip of sorts, and his story would have been well told by Dr. Seuss, I think. Wellington, a rockhopper penguin, Annik, a baby beluga whale, and the rest of the wildlife at Shedd Aquarium are missing the visitors but seem to be enjoying their explorations and freedoms. I find myself mesmerized and often very relaxed watching the animals hop, waddle, swim, and live life on the other side of the screen. I wonder if they have any idea that when Jane Goodall spoke of how we all have an impact on the world around us, penguins, sea lions, and otters would be included.
I’ve loved nature for as long as I can remember. Growing up with woods around me, the sights of nature have been comforting, and the sounds that come from that space continue to calm me. I’ve thought about Goodall’s words and how the world around me has actually had an impact on me but hasn’t seemed to need me too much: The sun rises in the morning and sets in the afternoon and has never needed my help to do that. The moon appears at night and has never asked for my assistance. The mountains stand where they are, and even though the fog (or smog) covers them, they haven’t really needed my help to exist. But as more homes have been built in the area where I live, I’ve seen changes in the environment that have required some help from me, and I ask myself, What kind of difference do I want to make?
It seems that most everything I think about writing these days somehow comes back to this pesky virus, Covid-19. This week, I’ve been thinking about nature and the way it has been impacted by the presence of the virus, and I’ve found many positives.
I’ve been following several sites that have shared nature with the viewers, and since I cannot travel to these places even on a normal day, it’s been a real treat to see what is happening in other parts of the world. Have you taken advantage of all of the amazing opportunities to learn and experience nature since your museums and zoos shut down? School might be out, but field trips are still happening! The animals still are doing what they do, the humans who care for them still do their jobs to be sure nature is cared for. Never have we needed to support each other the way we have now.
Supporting the environment might start for many of us on the internet, where we can learn more about why nature needs our help and how we can make a difference in our own neck of the woods. For those with available dollars, donations can be made to support the places that normally depend on visitors’ funding.
These Aquariums, Zoos, Gardens, and Science Centers can be found on the internet or their Facebook pages:
It seems that Goodall was right — what we do makes a difference. Nature does need us, and we need nature. It took having everyone around the world stay home to make the point, and it happened in a short period of time. The fact that a deer was roaming through a cathedral in Europe while people were away should be a wake-up call for us to consider what we could be doing to help preserve the beauty that has become visible during an otherwise upsetting pandemic.
When I think of how many years we’ve been doing what we do to obscure our view and to drive nature away, and I see how quickly nature is responding to the absence of people, I realize that with a little effort from each of us we can make a big difference to the world around us, the right kind of difference.
Joy is the will which labors, which overcomes obstacles, which knows triumph.~ William Butler Yeats
Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right. - Henry Ford
The best way out is always through. ~ Robert Frost
Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable. ~ Theodore N. Vail
Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall. ~ Oliver Goldsmith
You must be the change you want to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi