The vernal virus

By Richard Leighton

It’s spring here in our state-christened “Vacationland.” Yet, the tourists are being told not to take their spring breaks and vacations here. We’re being warned to avoid personal contact with those who don’t live with us, even members of our family and good neighbors. Daily reports on the latest increases in sickness and death have become routine, numbing — too awful to think about.

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has reached us and we’re being changed in fundamental ways by fear. Yet, many of us feel more fortunate than those who live elsewhere. Or, perhaps it’s better to say that we feel “less unfortunate” than they are. We have — almost all to ourselves — what makes Maine a Vacationland. We have a natural beauty in which solitude can help us find peace of mind, at least temporarily.

We were reminded of this recently as we watched a wood duck drake gliding on the still waters of our field pond. (See the accompanying image.) His grace reminded us of the many profoundly beautiful things in the world that are still there for us to see and think about and stay in the present.

That duck also reminded us to re-read Wendell Berry’s “The Peace of Wild Things,” which has been an inspiration to us during bad times:


When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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