Habits to Hold Onto

The Part of Pandemic Life that Ain’t so Bad 

On a sunny, 65-degree morning we pile out of the car onto the parking lot at Anne Arundel County’s Downs Park. I hoist two preschoolers out of their car seats and unfold a double jogging stroller from the back, loading it with sippy cups and baggies of Goldfish crackers. Just then, my father gets out of his car a few spaces down and my little guys shout, “Granddad!” as the four of us head for the paved trail that snakes through the woods behind the park’s Bayfront shoreline and past a quiet tidal pond. 

When we stumble on a field of bat houses built on poles ust off the trail and a bee colony in another field, my oldest son (four and a half) stands riveted as my father (74) tells him about the wildlife. The two of them look high up at a strong, old oak tree and my son declares, “I’m getting really interested in nature.” 

On a Thursday morning under normal circumstances, my children would be at school and daycare and I’d be catching up on work. Instead, we’ve enjoyed free entry to a county park, exercise, family time, and a nature lesson. At moments like this, I can’t complain about living in the era of COVID-19. To be honest, there are things I’ll miss about this time, and habits I’ve picked up that I hope to keep. 

As Calvert and Anne Arundel counties begin to reopen for business and play, I feel a sudden urge to write down the behaviors I want to continue from our stay-at-home life. Some things that come to mind: visiting a new park with the kids rather than buying tickets to an overstimulating entertainment venue; planning our weekly grocery trips carefully so we won’t have to “run in for a few things” throughout the week; making crafts out of egg cartons, toilet paper tubes and paper plates when the kids get bored instead of buying new toys. 

I’m not the only one making small changes for the better. Positive trends are emerging all over the community, and Bay Weekly is writing about them in hopes they’ll stick around. The “pandemic garden,” a modern-day version of the World War II Victory Garden, has caught on so fast that seed suppliers can’t quite keep up. People stuck at home have also used their time to foster or adopt pets that would otherwise be living the shelter life. And of course, we’ve embraced all things outdoorsy: walking, biking, fishing and boating. (Bay Bulletin continues to update the easing of restrictions on Bay recreation this week.) 

That’s the pandemic effect I hope sticks around longest of all: families, friends and neighbors enjoying the land, water and spring wildlife Chesapeake Country has to offer. Like my pre-kindergarten-aged son, you just might get really interested in nature.