During the quarantine for COVID-19, I began to lose touch with pretty much everything. I laid in bed all day, did the bare minimum for daily necessities. I realized that this was a dangerous path to follow during all of quarantine; it’s unhealthy to be stagnant for long periods of time. So, prompted by my family, I went out to enjoy nature, practice with my camera, and see what there was to see. While I could have done this just around my neighborhood, I thought it might be better to get away from the house and travel to a park with plenty of trails and hopefully very few hikers.
I enjoy going to Pemberton Historical Park for a few reasons. One, it’s free. Two, I know the trails well. Three, it is usually pretty empty. When I arrived, there were at least ten cars in the lot. I didn’t want to be out around so many people, so I decided to wait a few minutes to see if the car population went down.
The longer I waited, the more people seemed to show up. Frustrated that my plans had been thwarted by others, I almost decided to forget the whole adventure and go home to be upset and find something else to do at home, away from people. Before I pulled out of my parking spot, I remembered my dad had mentioned Trap Pond State Park. I knew it wasn’t free to get in, but I had a couple dollars and going there was better than giving up my plan to adventure and explore nature for the first time since the lockdown.
I had never been before so, admittedly, I was nervous about the possible crowding and trail navigation. Even though it was cloudy and sad, I was out and it felt so good to drive again. With my GPS on, finding Trap Pond was a breeze, and I didn’t have any trouble getting in. When I entered the park, there was a stop to pay the park fee. It was a little black box that had a menu screen to pick the option I needed: in-state tags, those who have Delaware tags, and out-of-state tags, those who don’t have Delaware tags. The fee for in-state tags is $4. Sadly, I live out-of-state, so the cost was double.
After getting a little turned around, I made it to one of the many trailheads that emptied out into the parking lot. I was happily surprised to see that there were not many people around. There was a family at a picnic bench, a few kayakers on the lake and some people playing in an open field near a trail entrance. Seeing the few people around, and the space between them all, I masked up, grabbed my bag and camera, and started toward the first trail I saw. Even though the day was grey and a little chilly, I wasn’t going to let it stop me from trying to find a new sense of joy that was badly needed.
As I walked toward the trail entrance which was marked with the words “Island Trail” carved above the archway, I was excited to see what nature the trail held for me. After a few minutes on the trail, I was greeted by a few hikers on the same trail. I stopped and waved to try and indicate that they could go ahead and they did the same.
Since I wanted to go in the direction they came from, I told them to go ahead, and they did. Under normal circumstances, we would have passed each other without a second thought. Now, stopping and negotiating who moves when and where is a new norm that seems odd to have in nature. Especially on a trail since there is so little space, but this makes stopping a bigger necessity to keep everyone safe.
I found a bench amid beautiful green bushes with a limited view of the lake beyond but decided to continue on. Eventually, I came to a bridge that had a creek that fed into the pond. The trees growing in the trench where the creek ran were leaning this way and that, looking twisted, but still the green surrounded them. Seeing everything in full spring color brought me joy and showed me that nature is reviving in its own way.
After passing more gorgeous trees and bushes and making different choices at each fork, I emerged at the end of the Island Trail feeling better than I had since quarantine started, but I wasn’t quite ready to go home yet, so I picked the next trail that caught my eye.
American Holly Trail
The American Holly Trail had more flower blooms than the Island Trail. I would have been perfectly happy with the beautiful scenery that I had seen on the Island Trail repeated on this trail as well, but I was happier to see the white blooms on some of the plants as I wandered down this trail.
As I went along the trail, a strong aroma hit me with the sweet smell that is identifiable as honeysuckle from the first inhale. Lo and behold, I spotted honeysuckle not two minutes after I smelled it. I stopped and relished in the sight and smell of honeysuckle before continuing on to see what other natural flora the trail held for me.
Not long after, I saw why the trail was named as it was. There were holly trees left and right on the trail with white blossoms that had a more subtle scent than the bolder honeysuckle but no less present. A pair of cyclists passed me a couple of times as I went on my journey.
I assumed they were a middle-aged married couple, and they waved kindly each time they passed. After the third or fourth time they came around, the wife said something along the lines of, “I promise we’re not following you around,” and I responded with the fact that we were all on the same trail so it was bound to happen. I wished them both a good day as they peddled away.
I took a seat on one of the benches along the trail for a short break. I had a granola bar and some water while I listened to the birds around me. I didn’t see any, but they were quite vocal. I sat for a good ten minutes, just enjoying the sounds and scenery around me. After my break, I finished the trail, seeing a few different flowering plants, as well as an unkempt garden that had a few straggling plants growing in the raised beds.
Relaxing in a Safe Environment
After I finished the trails, I found an empty picnic table, set down my stuff and went to the water to take pictures of the calm, grey afternoon the pond reflected so well. After the quick photo session, I returned to my things, pulled out my book and read for a while. Eventually, the wind picked up, gave me a chill and tried to blow my book away.
I took it to mean I should pack up and head home, so I did. Driving home with my windows down, blaring music, and enjoying life, I realized there was more to quarantine than being stuck inside.
As I pulled up to my house, I thought about my day and how much clearer my head felt. This day gave me the clarity needed to realize that nature has a property unlike anything else. It can change a mood in an instant. On this day it provided a safe escape during quarantine. It gives a place for reflection and a type of solitude that is good for the mind, unlike the confines of a house.
If you feel like you might be losing your mind a little bit, or feel as if there is nothing to do, to take a walk in nature. Take your eyes away from the screens that are easy distractions and step outside. Grab a book and sit outside if you don’t want to walk around, but enjoy the world and what it has to give.
It gives more than you may think. I didn’t think it would help, but I was wrong. It feels comforting, knowing that I could go to a place, wear a mask, and still enjoy the world even though there is a pandemic going on. Enjoy the outdoors, but be safe.