Traditionally, as a student in August attending Michigan State University, I would be getting ready for my fall semester classes and preparing to move into a dorm room on campus. College is supposed to be an exciting time for young people to grow and learn about all that life has to offer, but that would be during a normal year. 2020 is far from normal, and while I am looking forward to my courses beginning, plus spending time with my new MSU friends, all of this is going to be conducted virtually at home. Like many other students, my classwork will be completely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so I will be staying in my hometown of Midland, MI during the coming months. One may think this means that opportunities to learn and grow will be very limited since the virus continues to impede society. Even though change is occurring to everyone’s day to day living, students like myself and their families can still enjoy their lives during this era of social distancing. Nature is the best medicine for society’s struggles, because it has the unique ability to restore one’s sense of normalcy during this pandemic and the ongoing uncertainty it brings.
This year, 2020, is when the importance of community sustainability is coming to the forefront. Family and friends are riding their bikes more, neighborhood parks and gardens are being visited at greater rates, and more people are working virtually from their homes.
Seeing them flying effortlessly to feed on nectar provides us with peace and joy when those are especially difficult emotions to feel right now. My family makes it a point to plant and nurture beautiful wildflowers and trees on our property. These simple acts of stewardship bring the natural world into our everyday lives, giving us comfort.
Nature will encourage me to go outside during breaks from my online classwork. While not being in East Lansing, I know that Midland has wonderful parks, the beautiful Tridge green space area downtown and its surrounding bike trails, neighborhood trees and flowers, and many other sustainable characteristics which make my hometown especially charming. The outdoors will allow me to get my exercise I need during the school year along with feeling the wonderful wash of peacefulness and serenity that only Mother Nature can provide. Michiganders are blessed that we have four distinct seasons and this constancy of nature keeps us looking forward, giving us a sense of optimism and hope. It’s a rather miraculous process as one season evolves into the next. Although COVID-19 has permanently altered society, I am thankful that nature has not been changed in the same way. Appreciating and respecting the surrounding natural world can help bring us together to heal from these unprecedented circumstances.
Authored by John R. “J.R.” Nosal