Life outside the city

My partner and I decided to temporarily leave our home in Brooklyn, New York on March 29. The coronavirus had already taken a firm foothold, and venturing outside for exercise was approaching terrifying. There was just so much we didn't know about the virus, except that it was killing an increasingly large amount of people, and making a lot more very sick.

Both of us have the privilege to work remotely, so we drove down to North Carolina where some family and friends would be nearby, and we could briefly escape the risks of living in an area as densely populated as NYC. We strictly quarantined ourselves for over 2 weeks, and still hunker down in our temporary home 99% of the time.

When we do venture out (mainly to our back patio), one of the many things we've had to adjust to is... nature. I've lived many, many years in North Carolina, so it was quite a surprise how unaccustomed I'd become to the sights and sounds of the nature which now surrounded us. I now found myself curious about the plants and animals around me, and thanks to iNaturalist, had a tool to help me learn.

iNaturalist is an app for iPhone in which you take a photo of either a plant or bug, and within seconds an impressive utilization of machine learning will return likely results. I often find myself down a Wikipedia rabbit hole learning random facts about my subjects and feeling a sense of awe and delight reminiscent of my early experience on the internet. Perhaps this is the work that awe requires.

While I'll never be an expert on nature like my father or sister, this is a most welcome distraction from the tragic perpetual crises engulfing our world in 2020, especially if we are confined at home and lucky enough to be surrounded by nature.