It’s the month of March – with the hope of spring, flowers in Israel create carpets of red and purple, urging people to climb the hills and wander the valleys.
March brings with it memories of one year ago, just about when the world began to shut down on us. No more a faraway, tough-to-name disease but an immediate threat to life as we know it. Boy, did things change, but I don’t need to help remind you of that.
For me, this year meant a quieting of sorts, a turning inward, including many fewer blog posts. Forgive me, dear readers as writers are wont to say, but it just didn’t seem like there was something new to share. We were there. We all know what it’s like to face this pandemic, with our families, loved ones, ourselves and our own inner pendulums swinging with the times. Disease, quarantine, lockdowns, testing, and now the blessing of vaccines with the potential to bring an end to this storm.
Nature plays a special role in this year. Today is March 1 – on this date in 1872, Ulysses S. Grant signed legislation preserving the natural beauty of Yellowstone. In the process, President Grant helped create the template for a vast national park system that Western writer Wallace Stegner once described as “the best idea” America ever produced.
It’s no wonder this happened in March, with spring bursting through the door. And this year, the month is more welcome than ever.
Take a moment to realize that the freedom afforded to us by natural beauty, all around, is not to be taken for granted. Freedom comes in so many forms – Covid has reminded us of that, as a society. Despite the differences with our political brothers in the US, here in Israel those decisions haven’t taken on a party line. Most of us have made the conservative choice, hoping our behavior may protect our elders, our less healthy. We abide by stringent rules that – while limiting our personal freedom – aim to mitigate the deadly effects of the disease. Maybe it’s because we’re a young, small country. Masks and distancing have not become a political choice here, and remain very much influenced by our familial-society.
Nature is one of those freedoms that is a God-given blessing, not to be taken away easily. It’s been a respite this year, for those seeking the freedom to breathe, to see into the distance, rather than measure for social distancing. Celebrate the founding of the first US national park. You can’t come walk the Israel National Trail just yet, but start planning. The flowers are pushing through and we will show up to appreciate them.
See you soon!