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Saved By the Natural World

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Living on Earth’s Explorer-in-Residence Mark Seth Lender reflects on how he and his wife Valerie have felt saved by their connection to nature during the COVID-19 pandemic.


BASCOMB: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Bobby Bascomb

CURWOOD: And I’m Steve Curwood.

Public lands are great places to get out and about as the Coronavirus has meant a lot of isolation.
And nature anywhere helps sanity in these times, says Living on Earth’s Explorer in Residence Mark Seth Lender.
LENDER: What has saved us, Valerie and me, is the Natural World.

We are prisoners in our own home. No one comes. We avoid peopled spaces. Even on our long daily walk we wave from a distance and cross the street. Everyone does. We speak to the mailman through masks. The doctor visits are by phone.

But then all the gulls fly out over the water calling in alarm, the mallards rise up and the fish crows and mourning doves scatter in all directions. Eagle! Powering down the shoreline with a huge fish in her talons, her great wings deceptively slow, the speed incredible, all the wildlife in a rush to get out of her way. Or one of us hollers, “Come quick!” Because the thinnest eyelid of a New Moon has broken through the clouds, vanishing, appearing again and in an instant, gone. Sunsets. Blue-black night. The pinpoint light of stars and a penetrating cold.

We let go. All the unremarked tension of the day lets go. We heal.

Sunset (Photo: © Mark Seth Lender)

Yes, we live in a privileged place but anyone can look up at the sky. Even a prisoner has the free and open space above the prison yard. High above a herring gull crosses over. We ignore the gulls because they are common. Remember then what we so readily forget, that this is a wild animal! Or on your hurried way look east towards where the sun comes up if only for a moment, even if all you can see is the glow. And at the end of an exhausting day turn your head west where all the changing colors linger before they fade. Maybe if you are very lucky (and why not?) low on the horizon will be a V-shaped form, geese like you, heading home.

What else is there to save us? What else to preserve our sanity in the face of all this terror?

BASCOMB: That’s Living on Earth’s Explorer in Residence, Mark Seth Lender.



Mark Seth Lender’s website

Thanks to Destination Wildlife

Smeagull’s Guide to Wildlife

Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge 50th Anniversary event, July 23, 2022


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