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No ‘pause button’ for Mother Nature

Life may be on hold for a lot of us right now. We’ve seen events and activities and vacation plans canceled. Many people have lost their jobs, either temporarily or permanently. Those with loved ones battling COVID-19 have also been ripped away from their regular lives. This is not how any of us expected our year to go.

We had plans and goals and dreams to fulfill. And now, there is no telling when our lives will go back to normal or even what that “new normal” may look like when it arrives.

But despite our lives being thrown into chaos while we watch and wait, nature continues onwards like always. Spring is here and in full bloom, bringing us warmer weather and flowers and new green leaves (and a lot more yellow pollen than we’d like, of course).

Though I often tell people that summer is my favorite season (because I’m one of those crazies that likes the heat), I am also quite fond of springtime. There is something invigorating to me when I start to see buds appear on barren tree limbs and flowers, like azaleas and dogwoods, beginning to bring dazzling displays of color back to the land.

It’s nice to see little baby animals such as rabbits and turkeys lurking around as they cautiously explore their new world. I’m happy to see the birds beginning to build nests again. At my house, I regularly see what I’ve affectionately named “the Angry Mockingbird” who lives in a crepe myrtle and squawks indignantly at anything that gets too close to its nest.

Even the fresh air and sunshine is a source of comfort, especially after the cold has kept me inside for the past several months.

Now more than ever, it’s a great time to immerse yourself in nature. Sit on your porch or stoop or front steps for a while and just watch. It can be quite calming and peaceful to just relax, listening to the wind rustling through the leaves or birds singing to each other. Or you can get some exercise (which is allowed and encouraged even under stay at home orders as long as you maintain social distance) and walk around, broadening your viewpoints.

If you want something a little more interactive, spring is luckily also the right time for planting many things. Just like farmers are out in the fields now beginning to plant in anticipation of the fall harvest later, this is also the best time of year to start gardening. You can try a flower garden or vegetable garden or both if you’re able to safely obtain seeds or seedlings. If you don’t have a spot in the yard suitable for one, get creative! A simple Google search (or Pinterest search) provides a ton of innovative and often cute ideas for nontraditional gardening.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands and feet dirty! We’re washing our hands a lot anyway, so we might as well use them for something fun, right?

Over the years, my family has planted plenty of different things in our own garden. Tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers, and squash are usually the biggest staples, but we’ve tried plenty of other things along the way too. I think my personal favorite is bell peppers. It’s a lot of hard work making sure the plants never get choked by weeds, but it’s definitely worth it. The food (especially stuffed bell peppers) somehow just tastes better when you grow it yourself.

If you’re new to gardening and want to check it out, try looking up resources on your county’s Cooperative Extension website. You won’t be able to get face-to-face advice right now, but there are still plenty of remote ways to ask questions and get answers.

You know the old saying that “April showers bring May flowers” right? Well, the flowers are already here, so let’s enjoy them while they last!

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.