audio narrative: Walk in the Time of Coronavirus

But the beauty is in the walking – we are betrayed by destinations.

 Gwyn Thomas


an early March walk at Lake Maria State Park

For many of us, early March was “before” and now we reside in “after,” or perhaps more accurately, “during.” It’s hard to remember so many freedoms we enjoyed only a few weeks ago. And I don’t speak simply to being able to come and go as we please, congregate and share activities without a thought, or that our lives had some semblance of stability.

What I refer to is the loss of our dreams, ones we could plan for and bring to life, ones that sustained our hard work and focus, ones that made life rich and worth sacrificing for.

Now, we isolate and we wait.

Believe me, I am committed to what it takes for our common welfare, but I wonder if we’ll lose something from this time. If that’s hubris, then ok. If it’s hope, I’m heartbroken.


deep yellow light at sunset

This audio narrative was written and recorded at Lake Maria State Park in the far western portion of the Metro, where the highway signs begin posting mileage to Saint Cloud.

The park hosts one of the few remaining stands of maple, oak, elm, cedar and basswood, an island of forest that once covered much of southern Minnesota. The woods were so thick, it’s been said, that sunlight couldn’t penetrate the forest floor. French explorers named this region “Bois Grand” or Big Woods.

It’s not flat since this park lies on the St. Croix Moraine, formed during the Wisconsin Glaciation. Granite forms the bedrock topped by several feet of terminal moraine debris left by a bulldozer of massive ice sheets. Short, steep inclines lead to narrow catwalk ridges called eskers, hovering above myriad ponds and depressions or kettles scoured into the earth as the glaciers retreated.

Lake Maria is well known for its beautiful backpacking sites and remote cabins. The kame, Anderson Hill, is an oddly shaped mound of glacial till and detritus. It looks down upon tiny lakes just coming to life on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, the sky a robin egg blue, the temperature at sixty.


fungus like spackle

Charles Dickens described a day like this, when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. But it’s more than a seesaw of temperature. There’s a feeling of expectancy, something waiting beneath my feet to emerge. It’s a story still to be told.

My story will be that I continued to walk in the time of coronavirus, that I continued to be startled by the screech of a Red Shouldered Hawk, or awed by golden sunlight casting long shadows on melting snow, or delighted by mushrooms stacked up in crooked rows. We can take precautions to stay safe and still walk outside now, in fact we’re told fresh air can help right now as we live in uncertainty.

I give you my hand (virtually) and invite you to join me (again, virtually) as winter slowly gives way to spring and the world outside comes alive. Be well!


brown sugar snow

Reader Comments

  1. Thank you for this wonderful piece and the amazing video essay. Hiking and gardening have been solace for me in these challenging and uncertain times.

    Spring was well along here in the mountains of Western North Carolina, buoying the spirit; it’ll be equally important in the months to come.

  2. My family and I were at Gooseberry Falls last weekend having fun slipping and sliding on the icy trails and enjoying the beauty of nature. I felt like I was beating the virus, (AKA ‘ol 19) back and not letting it or any (mental) thing that comes with it get me down. Nature is out there, just on the other side of my window and I can walk in it and enjoy any time I please. The Mississippi River bike trail is on the other side of my back yard and I know how to ride a bike. The virus may have hobbled me, but it can’t stop me.

    Thank you so much for your words.

  3. A beautiful and practical way to respond to this disruptionn of our lives. Get out and enjoy this lovely world – just stay away from people for awhile. The place is gorgeous!

  4. Thanks Alison! We returned from an Island vacation this past weekend! Now we are in isolation in our home, but we can walk and walk we do. Thank goodness for our city of lakes and pathways! A bit later, we will go to the woods!

  5. It’s raining and the birds are still singing 🎶. May our way be peaceful ☀️🎶🌾🌿… Lark ON🎶‼️

  6. Alison…glad to hear from your audio clip that you are still hiking .
    MN has so many great parks and trails … Zola

  7. I thought all the sounds in the background were GREAT! They gave another layer of credibility to your words.

    Had to look up two words . . .hubris (have heard it before bit did NOT have a clue!) and kane. I’m smarter now.

    “summer in the light, winter in the shade” . . . .love that! So true!! On again, off again clothing.

    My morning walk in the woods with the dogs and friends has become even more important these days. It’s better for us than ever!

    1. Are you distancing from friends to stop the spread of this pandemic? I ask because this is what most of us are doing now. It is difficult, but likely the best way to ‘flatten the curve’ and not overwhelm hospitals.

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