The natural and necessary priority for all of us during this extraordinary and difficult time is to do what we can to stay safe and well, also to look out for those whose wellbeing concerns us.
Much has been said about how we can look after our mental and physical health under conditions of social distancing, restricted movement, even isolation. In a way, it all comes down to connection: learning collective lessons about how humankind’s interactions with the natural world have helped to spawn this zoonotic virus, and about how our hyper-connected world has ensured its rapid spread, are vital longer-term challenges. In the meantime, modern technology gives us virtual connection with each other and our awareness of being part of Nature is more important than ever. The time we spend outside may be officially restricted, but social distancing and the banning of collective activities does not and must not shut us off from the Earth. The beauty and variety of life beyond our own species are wellsprings of wisdom, as well as being essential to our health and very survival.
Despite the fear, anxiety and frustration that people are experiencing, this moment of “Stop” is an opportunity (some would say a command!) to reflect on where we have got to, why we are where we are and what choices lie ahead. All of this as well as pure recreation, is enhanced when we immerse ourselves in the other-than-human world. Spring coaxes us out of ourselves, out of the artificial world, into another perspective on life.
As you go, you will no doubt feel a mixture of appreciation for all that’s there and given, along with sadness and concern where there is depletion and damage. Many of us are noticing the ravages of Ash die-back, compounding the previous loss of our Elms.
The Woodland Trust has a sombre assessment of the impact of Ash dieback will have on our landscapes and this might be an apposite time to record the Ash trees where you live. We know there are some huge beauties lining fields and droves known as Boundary Ash. Keeping a pictorial and written record of these as you complete your daily exercise will enable community memories of local landscape to be retained and replanting to be prioritised as necessary.
Reimagining the Levels continues to meet (virtually) and with an eye on the end of ‘lock-down’ is reserving trees and planning events for Autumn. Do contact us about places on the levels or their catchment you’ve seen where tree-planting, or other measures to help Nature re-generate, that would help us to conserve our landscape.