Suddenly we find we are confined to our homes – our physical world just got so much smaller, but our virtual world has soared to new levels. Birds are more active, insects, tiny animals and I can almost hear the oceans releasing a huge sigh of relief.
The current lockdown has been a stumbling block for a keen hiker like me. We are all interested in this publication because we are passionate about our environment and nature. Suddenly we find we are confined to our homes – our physical world just got so much smaller, but our virtual world has soared to new levels. How do we live in this “new normal” world of ours?
The conservation efforts of nature worldwide could not have gotten a better, more sustainable boost. Have you noticed in your immediate location just how nature is “having a ball”? Birds are more active, insects, tiny animals and I can almost hear the oceans releasing a huge sigh of relief. Here in the Overstrand, we have Perlemoen being allowed to multiply by the simple removal of humans from their environment. Kelp forests are rehabilitating as I write this article! The ocean is going to be teeming with new life as humans have been removed from the environment.
Behind my house lies the 3 Sisters & Perdeberg mountains. I look at it with longing every day. Believe me, as soon as I am out of lockdown; this is going to be my very first outing. I will probably crawl up because five weeks is a long time to be off the trails, but I will undoubtedly do the hike even if it is tough, rainy and cold! I cannot wait to get up there to see just how nature has rejuvenated itself.
The thing is, nature is always the gift that keeps giving. When we give back to the environment by respecting it, nurturing it and allowing it a place to flourish – Nature gives all this and more, right back to us. It may be hard to be so restricted on movement, but once we realise that we too are part of nature, we can see the COVID-19 pandemic as a perfect opportunity to also rejuvenate.
Air Polution India - Image: © Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory/Terra/MODIS/Pawan Gupta/USRA
We now have what people are calling a new normal, and this is set to continue for the better part of 2020. How will this translate to living and playing in the great outdoors? Whenever I post a hiking article, we usually have a little box that says: What to pack – and we always remind you to take everything you brought with, back off the mountain.
Covid-19 has certainly not been a “cure-all” for the devastation and havoc that humanity has wreaked on earth. I do believe it has bought us time. When you set off again on your mountain bikes or don those hiking boots or running shoes, there is going to be a change in the way you get out there and appreciate nature once again. Starting with the word appreciate. Enjoy what nature has on display and the offering but do not take from the earth what you are not prepared to sow back into it.
Be careful to continue to social distance as infection will still be possible so when you are moving out there in a group/social setting you need to make sure you do not expose yourself or fellow hikers to infection. Sit apart from each other when taking rest breaks. Do not share water bottles or cups. Take a sanitizer with you to keep your hands clean, and my advice is also to make sure you pay attention to your face. Exertion = Perspiration which creates a perfect opportunity to “wipe the sweat off your brow” so make sure you also rub a bit of sanitizer on your face so that you do not cross infect from hand to face. Just be aware of creating a sterile environment on your person.
I look forward to posting my first foray into the mountain with you. In the meantime, I have been researching hikes I want to do and plan to do them asap. There is a stunning hike one can do in the Cape Point Nature Reserve with an overnight cabin. I most certainly will be doing this in Spring. There is also a stunning overnight hike in an area that had a terrible veld fire earlier this year which holds a promise of new growth and hopefully many species of Wild Orchids that we usually are blessed to see after a fire. While that mountain has a fantastic opportunity to recover without any interference from all humankind – I eagerly await the chance to climb it later this year.
If nature had the same emotions as humankind, I think we are also missed. A great beauty loves to be acknowledged and celebrated. I know that I am somewhat of an eternal optimist. I do believe that nature has a way that far exceeds our understanding and science to do what we have failed to do. Nature is more than capable of taking care of itself, but we are our own worst enemies. What we have done and probably will continue to do will most likely change the world as we know it, but we should be less confident that we wield such power that we can destroy nature. We will first destroy ourselves. Should that not be the reason why everyone should be looking to conserve and preserve the environment?
Disclaimer: The impact of Covid-19 on the environment is my perception and not based on science. I do believe that when humanity realises that conservation is for our survival that we will not hasten the extinction of any one species thereby hastening our demise.