Pandemic Spring

Ah! Spring! I don’t like winter. I need the promise of coming warmth, new growth, and renewal to get me through the cold, dreary days. I always look forward to visiting local parks to see the beautiful displays of wildflowers in central Texas.

Well, spring is here, but this year it will be different for all of us. We are now under city of Austin/county of Travis orders not to leave our homes unless it is for essential reasons. Buying groceries, walking our dogs, and exercising are considered essential. We are not allowed to gather with non family members and must remain 6 feet apart from all others when we venture out. This is new and scary territory as the number of coronavirus victims rises. As of this writing there are 179 cases in the county (up from 160 the day before) and there has been 1 death. I note my physical state each day and try not to leap to the conclusion that I’ve got it. I try for some sort of normality, but these are not normal times.

Last Sunday, March 15th, I ventured out to a nearby grocery store. There were too many bare shelves. I had seen some the week before, but somehow I thought those were anomalies. The bread shelves were bare. There was no milk at all in the dairy case. There was no cheese. No ramen. The frozen pizza area was picked almost to the bone. I walked around the store in awe. I did buy a few things. But, the only things on my grocery list that I actually found were wine and toothpaste. Driving out of the parking lot I started to cry and was pretty blue the rest of the day. At least we had some food at home. We are lucky. So far no one I know has gotten ill.

I am still trying to get used to the lack of freedom. At first I was sure that I would be able to go out and walk among the flowers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Then they closed some of their facilities (gift shop, cafe, classrooms, etc.). Okay. No problem. The grounds were still open and I planned a visit. I would get to see the owl, Athena, who had recently returned to nest near the entrance. Maybe her owlets had hatched. But, No! The Wildflower Center decided to close their grounds to all but essential staff.

Okay, I thought, I can still go out to my favorite nearby state park, Mckinney Falls, and indulge my wildflower and birding passions. Their grounds (400+ acres) were still open when I checked their website on March 19th. The site suggested reserving a park day pass online to minimize park staff interacting with the public. I planned a trip to the park with my husband. On March 22nd I checked the website. No! The park was now closed too!

Okay, I know I am whining. So many people are getting very sick and many are dying. Even doctors and nurses are dying. Celebrities and heads of state are getting sick. I am in the older than 60 group that has a greater risk of dying of the virus and I am grasping at focusing on Nature’s beauty and not on Nature’s ugly.

I can’t go see the park flowers in person during this pandemic, but I have photos from past years. I can do a virtual park tour. I share a few here for you to enjoy. Stay safe and I hope to join you next spring among the flowers.

Tiger Swallowtail on Horsemint
Indian Blankets
Indian Blankets
Milkweed Pearl Vine
Insect nymph on Milkweed Pearl Vine
Young White-tailed Deer Buck
Blue bonnets
Texas Blue Bonnets

**All Photos taken at McKinney Falls State Park by Betty McCreary



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Born and raised in Central Texas. Spending time outside brings me joy and I love to share my observations. I also belong to two writing groups and enjoy researching my ancestors. I find people interesting, but Nature keeps me sane.

3 thoughts on “Pandemic Spring”

  1. It does feel cruel for this pandemic to come during wildflower season, though any season would have been terrible. We’d planned a day drive around Willow Loop to look at wildflowers – just us in the car, how could that hurt? But we realized we’d need to buy gas, possibly need a potty break, … and so, we are not indulging. Thank you for that gorgeous bluebonnet photo! Isolation makes the heart grow fonder … of bluebonnets!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Betty I too followed the closures, so very close to each other of these parks which are also my favorites. Especially McKinney Falls for Blue Bonnets. I wanted to drive over and sneak into the grounds of the Wildflower Center but figured they keep a guard there for folks like me who would do that, so I stayed home.

    Yesterday, for my birthday, Martin brought food in from one of our favorite nearby restaurants and then packed up snacks, water, and cameras and headed out for a drive on roads less traveled in the Dripping Springs area out by the Salt Lick and near TX 150 but decided not to go as far a Wimberley. He drove and I kept a lookout for bluebonnets and waterways, finding some of each. It was good to get outside even if I had to wear a mask due to high pollen count.

    I started an email to relatives and connected with a cousin near Dallas who I had not seen since 2004 and my mothers memorial service. It seems we of the older generation are the ones to write emails and our kids write text or call, which I am used to now. The younger ones are just not connecting at all except for four or five words. I try to understand, but I don’t, not really. This is getting long so I will stop now. It is good to connect. Please stay well and keep writing. I am wondering if we can make a meeting to write on ZOOM. They give you only about 40 minutes to an hours but it would be a start, or maybe we could write and then meet to read the writings. This is one of the things I will miss most if we do have to cancel.

    Sending love and virtual hugs,

    Liked by 1 person

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