Turning the Tables
"Will we finally understand that we do not and have never mastered nature?"
Between late 2019 and early 2020, bush fires in Australia devastated the wildlife and land. The fires raged for 210 days before the Australian government declared them under control. Throughout this disaster, news reports showed photos and video of terrified and confused wildlife fighting for survival. Heartbreaking images—small koala bears clinging to charred trees; confused kangaroos attempting to escape the inescapable fire—were reported day after day after day. Animals sense when there is danger and always attempt to flee in the threat of it. Yet the horrible power of the Australian bush fires left no escape for much of the country’s wildlife.
Now, in the midst of a worldwide human pandemic, it seems the tables are turned. It is springtime, and from the safety of my lakeside home I can hear the cry of the loons at dawn and dusk. Are they grieving for us as they skim over the tranquil waters? Here in Maine, the natural world is going about its springtime business, but we humans have nowhere to flee. We need to accept that we must do things differently. We need to stay in our homes. We need to be still. Just as heroic human rescuers came to the aid of suffering wildlife during the Australian fires, they are now coming to our aid. Essential healthcare, postal service, pharmacy, and food supply chain workers are the front line heroes and heroines to which we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. We will make it through this time. When we do, will we finally understand that we do not and have never mastered nature, but rather it ultimately masters us? Will we treat it, and each other, with the respect both deserve?
To those who, like me, are tasked with staying home to help stop community spread of the virus and “flatten the curve,” be still and hope for brighter days ahead. To those heroic essential workers—and there are many—you are literally our lifelines. Be well, be safe, and know that your communities hold you in grateful hearts.