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The Joy of Spring by Stephen



My story takes place in Nature, which does not much concern itself with social distancing, but in fact is well aware of threats—many of them caused by us, of course. Trees do form communities, we finally have learned, after thousands of years of ignorance, and are sentient beings, which cooperate to ward off disease or heal stricken members. At certain points, elders will sacrifice themselves and send their nutrients back to the roots of its grand-seedlings to assist them in their own growth adventure. Each weekend, we hike, run or snowshoe in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland (and sometimes further, in the Alps, when we can find someone to duck-sit and be “sheep-ish” at our small organic farm), so we know at what elevation the red pines stop, where the best views of Mont Blanc are, and the most likely spots to see a chamois or red deer.


We recently saw a badger print in the snow, and twice have been scolded by a red squirrel for getting too close to its tree. On Sunday, when we added an extra 1km to our run (much to the dismay of our aching knees), we heard a cuckoo calling for the third time in as many weeks—but after many years of absence. In fact, though we can see the decline in insects (our apple trees were not properly pollinated, yet again), the birdsong along our path has been steadily increasing for the past two months: the joy of Spring!


Normally, in our 11k up-and-down, we might see a couple of bikers and even more rarely, another hardy runner, usually all in our age group (young grandparents, e.g.). Since the beginning of the SARS-2 confinement, however, we began to see more and more young families in the woods, which may not have delighted the squirrels and the deer, but which reminded us of how modern life tends to disconnect families by devices and demands to be separate for most of each day, while we, like our arboreal guides, do still remember in our hearts that our strength is in numbers when it is time to heal, and that Nature offers us the respite we need from the madness of society. Just after the cuckoo chorus, in fact, we saw the largest group to date: four families on bikes, with two infants in little trailers pulled by a parent, and a range of other youngsters from four to fourteen herding their wobbling parents up the hill: the joy of Spring!


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