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April 2021

Vol. 49, No. 2

Musings from the Blind Birder: Birding Solace

Martha Steele

I am anticipating the 2021 spring migration perhaps more than any that preceded it, given how long we have been in the isolation of the pandemic and how desperate I am feeling for some sense of normalcy to return. For the past year, we have had to think carefully before deciding to let anyone come into the bubble of our house in northeastern Vermont and whether we ourselves could venture safely from it. Sometimes we have had to refuse proposed visits from family or friends. I have had frequent Zoom calls with family and friends, and although enjoyable, they were not the same as in-person visits and contact. For walks outside, I continue to check that my mask is secure, and when I heard footsteps approaching, I turn my head away and dig my chin deeper into my chest, trying to minimize any moments of shared air with the passerby. The pandemic has greatly restricted everybody’s movements, most notably travel on any public transportation, including aircraft. Now, as I write this in early February, I just want this entire pandemic affair done and over with, even as I acknowledge that we cannot let our guard down and that we are much luckier than many given our financial, housing, and food security.

The commencement of widespread vaccinations gives me hope that the coming spring migration will indeed be more normal or at least experienced with a bright light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Anticipating spring reminds me once again of how important birds and birding are to my spirits and how they help keep me connected beyond the confines of our walls. The hardships of a pandemic and of a long New England winter will soon give way to the joys and renewals of the spring migration. The return of our birds in all their breeding plumage glory and bursts of song will perhaps be more intensely felt this year than usual as they carry our spirits on their wings into a more hopeful future.

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