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17 People Share How Quarantine Has Changed Their Perspective On Nature

Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor By Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."
Young Woman Exploring Grassy Hill Overlooking Valley
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During a time when it feels like so much has been taken away, the natural world outside our windows remains. Our plans may be on an indefinite pause, but our environment keeps carrying on all the same. In honor of Earth Day, here, 17 members of the mbg community share how they are watching it with a new sense of appreciation and awareness:

"I am noticing more nature sounds—like birds calling to each other in the morning and wind rustling the leaves of the trees outside my kitchen window. At first it felt like the world got much quieter with humans in quarantine, but then I realized that nature has gotten much louder."

"For the first time in the lives of many of us, we are slowing down enough to experience the gifts of the natural world—and it is no coincidence that the timing correlates with the onset of spring. To simply experience the beauty of spring unfolding with this level of presence is to be a participant in the birth of a new world."

"The only time I'm able to engage in nature is when I'm walking in the small park next to me—but now I hardly even do that as I prefer to take my walks on even more secluded streets... You know what I miss the most oddly? Grass. I miss grass desperately."

"I live in a relatively small Brooklyn apartment, and now that we're all in quarantine I have never wanted to live in a house in nature more. I realize living in New York has its perks, and the best perk is the energy generated by being around others. Not having that feels like breakup or loss of some kind, and I'm grieving that as well as the thousands who are suffering from the effects of COVID. Oof! When I'm not grieving, I'm dreaming of living near a beach or in the desert—somewhere expansive, where the horizon line is fully visible. I have always loved clouds, but I have a new appreciation for watching the sky. I notice that the weather has a more intense impact on my moods. Today it's sunny and I feel both hopeful and productive. Not surprisingly, tending to my indoor plants has been grounding. I have a set of monstera clippings I've been cultivating for friends, and one just unfurled a new leaf. If they can grow well indoors, so can we. We just need to remember how to nourish ourselves. I haven't been going outside much, but I do have access to the roof of my apartment building. It's janky and unfinished, but I've been dancing there on days it doesn't rain. It brings me closer to the sky and the sun, and I'm so grateful for that."

"I now notice all the weeds and flowers and leaves with curiosity that I didn't have before. Last week the trees were in blossom, all pink and white. Today, some of the blossoms are decaying on the ground but I see the ginkgo leaves starting to come out—tiny ginkgo leaves, the size of a penny."

"I've become captivated by the tree outside my window where I do my work (something I never thought I'd say). As the shelter-in-place order was instated, my tree bloomed fluffy white flowers, bringing some much-needed beauty and a few unwanted sneezes during this situation. I've always appreciated the tree, but now that she's my co-worker and I'm often in my Brooklyn apartment, I'm even more grateful for this bit of nature. To cherish it (yes, I know, shelter-in-place has made me very sentimental), I take a daily photo of the tree through my window, and I've made a little digital flip book to track its blossoms."

"I've been thinking about how while so many of humans are staying indoors, nature is having a chance to recover and rejuvenate. There are clear skies in major cities that have been plagued by pollution for decades. It's a powerful reminder of the impact our species has on the planet."

"Now more than ever I want to gather with family and friends—but outside and preferably in nature. Hikes over happy hours, picnics over shows, and patios over bars."

"The moments I do have leaving the house have become more like an event. I take my time strolling around the four-block radius from my home, sit on the park bench for 20 minutes feeling the sun on my face. I've watched the flowers bloom, taking time to truly look at their pinks and yellows and believing that's a signal from the universe that everything will be OK... I hope that when we exit this phase, we will be more grateful and aware of the goodness of slow living. Of how the simple things found in nature can inspire and nurture our bodies, our minds, and our souls as well."

"Whenever I find myself feeling overwhelmed, I look to nature for reminders that life is cyclical and in a continual state of transformation."

"I've always had a love and appreciation for nature, but I find myself craving a complete outdoor immersion at one of our country's National Parks. I always assumed these places would be available to me, and being cut off from them now means I'm less likely to take them for granted in the future. It's my hope that others who feel this same sense of loss and subsequent appreciation for our country's wild spaces will support nature conservation efforts going forward."

"Having to spend more time indoors has really transformed the moments I get to be outside. What I regularly used to overlook and rush through like a morning jog or an errand in the neighborhood, I now soak up and fully get to experience with gratitude and presence. Any chance I get to breathe fresh air, take a walk in the grass, and feel sunshine on my face feels like a treat: a holiday, even."

"We are of nature, and nature is all around us, so whether I am in a forest or in my house, I am trying to connect to nature through the food I eat, the water I drink, and the gratitude I have for all that surrounds me—the buzzing bees, the squirrels, and so much more."

"Every day when I walk my dog, I make sure to take a few moments to put my barefoot on the grass. This instant connection to earth has been a new savor and has shifted my entire outlook on life. I feel more balanced, present, and grateful for my well-being." 

"During these surreal times when we cannot go outside as much, we can go inside—a meaningful metaphor for our reconnection to home (aka source, or self). In my very limited outdoor time over the past month-plus, I ironically have never felt so grateful and connected to the blue skies, clean air, blossoming flowers, and chirping birds."

"I'm so grateful that I have the privilege of staying with family in the suburbs of D.C. instead of in my small apartment in Brooklyn. But being at home every day helping take care of my two nephews while my brother and I trade off teaching and working has made me empathize with parents all over the country like I never have before. Because there is a first-time demand on my time for family care, I appreciate my alone time—which is mostly spent being outdoors—so much more! I try to find any time throughout the day to sit on the porch (even if its 50 degrees out!) or go for a run just for a little respite."

"Mountain air, blue skies, wildflowers, and the sounds of the natural world settle my body and mind and give me the sense that even when I can't see the light at the end of this tunnel, it's there. This powerful planet knows how to heal herself, and we, too, will find our way back to health."

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