Nature as Healer

It is April 2020, and we here in Oregon are a month and a half into COVID-19 precautions reminding us to “Stay at Home,” “Cover mouth and nose with protective mask,” and “Quarantine at the first sign of illness.” So far, I am healthy. I am working on my website, continuing education requirements and other odd jobs at the kitchen table and looking out of three large picture windows in my Churchill neighbourhood rental. For a month and a half, I have been strangely reflective and observant. No longer rushing off to this activity or that, I have noticed the way the maple and birch trees leaf out. “Is that a maple seed pod?” I think as if I have never seen a maple tree in the springtime ever before. “Do lichens always start growing on the branches in March?” What else do I not notice because of this and that going on? The pink rhododendron in front of my dining room window opened up its blossoms in slow-motion, but the purple azaleas by the drive-way surprised me all at once. What we notice changes us. When we notice it provides us essential information about who we are and how we are.

In Chinese Medicine, Spring time is associated with the Wood Element which moves outward and upward like an untamed forest. It is a time of planning for the summer months. Activities and opportunities abound. The weather warms and the rains are softer and leave a fresh scent in the air. This is not traditionally a good time to stop everything and sit at the table for weeks at a time. But here we are–stalled in mid track and unable to do our ordinary business and social activities. It took me a week or two to adjust and start in on quieter projects, but I am moving forward in my own quiet way. Many people, depending on their temperament, are not adjusting to this abrupt halt to the Spring time momentum. A walk or run through the blooming hawthorn, apple and dogwood along the streets of the city is not quite enough to substitute for what has been lost. It is helpful to consider, in these times, what has been sacrificed during this unusual Spring hiatus and how that will affect our attitudes in the coming Summer months, the Autumn of 2020 and the Winter beyond.