I recently acquired, without any conscious effort on my part, the previously-elusive skill of being hyper aware of my surroundings. Not always of course, but definitely when I leave the house to go for a walk. I call it my elixir and it’s all because of quarantine.
In the days “BQ” (before quarantine), going for a walk was a fitness goal to check off my “to-do” list . My mind jumped from errands I had to run to tasks to be completed at work to did I forget to iron my white blouse? Now I notice things, I mean, really notice them. Like the rhythm of my footsteps on the asphalt or the pull of brisk air into my lungs when I inhale. Did it always feel this good?
Take today for example. On my outing, I hear the ring of a young girl’s laugh. I spot her on her front lawn. She has slim, coltish legs and her hair is up in a long pony tail. She’s holding her cell phone in front of her, obviously facetiming with a friend. “That was really good!” she says. “Now I’m going to do a one-hand cartwheel.” And she does, executing it beautifully while still holding her cell phone so her friend is along for the ride. It’s pure joy to watch.
A few houses down, three people are sitting on camping chairs at the top of a drive. In Quebec, a gathering of more than two people who don’t live under the same roof is deemed to be against physical distancing measures. I wonder if they all live in the same house. I doubt it because the chairs are too carefully positioned at what seems to be at least six feet apart. But who am I to deny them the small pleasure of having a chat in the middle of a Friday afternoon in April? And why shouldn’t they get some use from those chairs? They won’t be needed at the sidelines of kids’ soccer games or at outdoor concerts this year.
I round the corner and I can’t see them, but I hear a flock of birds chirping loudly from the top of a tall fir tree. By the sounds of it, there are a lot of them. Don’t they know about the physical distancing? Of course they don’t. And even if they did, it doesn’t matter because this virus isn’t attacking them. It’s only hunting man, the supposedly most evolved of all creatures. Let them sing and make their music for us.
I see and hear so many things that would have escaped my notice before: A tiny, pale pink tricycle with training wheels temporarily abandoned by its owner. A dog barking at a house around the block from mine. Did they get a new dog or has it been there all along? I’m not sure. What I do know is I come home refreshed and looking forward to tomorrow’s discoveries.