• Cindy Mundahl

The Cacophony of a Social Distancing Summer

It’s a curious experience to socially distance yourself from others. While I’m often separated from many people in my life, I’m also never alone. To be quarantined with your family is to never be alone and I am a person that needs a lot of alone time to rejuvenate. Normally I replenish my spirit in nature among the trees, plants and creatures that move about the floor of the earth, but now as the season changes from the silence and sparseness of winter to the budding and inviting spring, it feels as though masses of people are exploding from their homes eager for escape and companionship in any form they can get it. I find myself longing for winter to return so that I can have my nature trails back to myself and the quiet of winter’s stillness enfold me once again.

I can’t help but believe it’s going to be a long summer. I imagine it will feel like a boiling pot of water as our collective yearning for the usual activities of summer bubbles over and we cast aside social distancing for what we feel is our God given right to move our bodies freely in open spaces, blast radios on beaches, and to congregate with our people in order to make memories that will tide us over during the winter months.

I’m already dreaming up plans to make the stillness and silence of the winter months part of my summer. I feel my mental health depends on it as the usual busyness of summer seems sure to conflict with the demands of containing the virus. Summer and social distancing don’t jive; winter and social distancing seem more obvious companions. Even as I write this, I feel a twinge of apprehension about sharing my plans for the summer as to not invite others to adopt them as their own. I want them all to myself, just as I want the trails, trees and park benches to myself, but that’s selfish and unrealistic. I feel I must turn summer on its head in order to flourish or even stay afloat as social distancing wanes on.

I guess what I’m saying is, please stay home, stay inside, watch Netflix, do a puzzle. Please, please, please do not leave your homes this summer. I need you to stay inside, away from nature. I know this plea will go unheard and rightfully so. We all need fresh air, sunshine and the wind whipping our hair in our eyes as a reward for enduring the winter months. For me, this summer likely won’t feel like a reward. Winter is the true reward for those of us who value silence, stillness and people free spaces. So this summer, I’ll be out in nature, but I’ll be there stealthily. You won’t hear me make a sound, or even see me. I’ll be the one who’s there when you’re not, searching for the remnants of a winter-like existence among the trees.

I’ll try to appreciate summer, but more than likely I’ll be counting the days until winter, just like I’m counting the days of quarantine. Both numbers mark time for a hopeful return to a more natural state.

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