My first day working remotely was a beautiful sunny one, so I set out for a lunchtime walk in my neighborhood park, Olmsted Park, keeping a safe spatial distance from others. It took only a half hour walking through the springtime air, alongside the Muddy River, to get the blood circulating and to lift my spirits. Smiling at others who were as happy as I was to be outside in a beautiful environment, watching parents seemingly relieved to have a little space for the kids to run off their restless energy after being cooped up in the house for way too long.
In these traumatic times of the coronavirus pandemic, I have been moved by the large number of articles and posts testifying to the vital importance of parks and other greenspaces for people in cities, here in Boston and across the country. People who are forced to work from home, who are managing the challenges of caring for children out of school, or who are facing the loneliness of isolation and financial fear after losing a job – we are all appreciating the gift of these public spaces in a new way.
Parks cannot solve all of the complex problems posed during this unprecedented time. And yet their role as healing oases of nature owned by and available to all of us has never before in my lifetime been so clear. The naturalist John Burroughs captured this power of nature when he wrote, “I go into nature to be soothed, healed, and have my senses put in order.” As each of us faces the uncertainty of this crisis, spending time in our greenspaces can bring us a measure of calm and centering that few other things offer.
So, find some time to walk through a park nearby, open and available to each of us. They are some of the best places to give your body exercise, feed your spirit, clear your head, and bring you a little joy. They are needed now more than ever before, and are waiting for you.