Picture Walking Through a Pandemic

May 28, 2021

When I first started taking picture walks five years ago, it was just a hobby that I squeezed in between the joys of grandparenting, driving senior citizens to their doctor’s appointments, and volunteering with my dog at a local school. Seventeen months ago, when this pandemic started, all those enjoyable and productive activities came to an abrupt halt. I was faced with entire days, weeks, and months with no particular plans and no particular purpose.

Yellow Warbler on a warm spring day in May

I was thankful to be retired; to not have to worry about working from home (or losing my job) while simultaneously caring for children who were struggling to navigate a world of virtual learning. But I had lost my sense of routine and a feeling of purpose that babysitting grandchildren and volunteering had afforded me.

Common Grackle

Eventually, I carved out a new routine of Zoom and Facebook visits with our kids, grandkids and friends. Sometimes, whenever the weather cooperated and everyone was available, there would be ‘family walks’ to various preserves and nature centers —all of us wearing masks and avoiding close contact.  I was staying connected, but it was a bittersweet reminder of how much everything had changed and how much we had all lost.

A tiny fawn hidden in the greenery of our neighbor’s yard

And there were still so many hours to fill…

Young buck in our nearby woods

Over time, those empty hours slowly started filling up with longer and more frequent picture walks. It was, in many ways, the perfect pandemic diversion: a solitary outdoor activity that kept me happy and totally absorbed. After every excursion, there would be hundreds of pictures to look forward to –another delightful and time-consuming task!

A Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk in our backyard

Once the pictures were labeled, cropped and edited, there was research to do and stories to write about all the different creatures I had found.  When I posted those pictures and discoveries on Facebook or in this blog, it was just one more way to stay connected with others, one more lifeline.

Sandhill Cranes at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
The Lupine started blooming in May

This last year and a half has been exhausting, terrifying and isolating.  Most of all, I have missed spending in-person time with our kids, grandkids, and friends. At my very core, I have missed just feeling comfortable and safe around other people without the fear of catching or spreading a deadly disease. Thankfully, we have been able to get vaccinated; our friends and family members (except for the little ones) have gotten vaccinated, and our lives are slowly beginning to blossom again.

Green Heron at the top of a very dead tree

My picture walks were a blessing during this long, difficult year. They gave me a routine and a purpose and a connection. My forays into nature also provided solace; an island of calm in a sea of turmoil. It’s just not possible to spend time outdoors and not feel comforted by the wonder of it all.

Female Mallard on a calm morning at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
Willow Flycatcher at the Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery

4 thoughts on “Picture Walking Through a Pandemic

  1. So great that your picture walls were a solace and diversion during this hard year. I kept up daily walks all year until last month when my husband went back to work and they were definitely my self-care! (They still are self- care, it’s just not daily anymore :))

    1. My picture walks have always had a meditative effect, which was even more helpful during this past year! For the better part of my adult life, prior to photography (and age), running every day had a similar effect.

  2. Your wonderful pictures took all who follow you on your daily walks in nature. I learned so much from your adventures in the past 18 months 💕. Thank you for sharing and allowing me to see the wonders of nature through your camera lens. 🙌🙌

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