SIDNEY — The new normal. While I respect the phrase, the situation that the world is experiencing is anything but normal. Face to face interaction has been replaced with on-line video chats – all types of community, social and religious events are cancelled or postponed indefinitely, banks only do business by appointment and the shopping experience has been completely altered or shut down in its entirety. Highway signs that once gave you traffic updates, urging you to ‘not speed,’ are now asking ‘or telling’ you to save lives by staying home. People that you once interacted with regularly, from postal workers, neighbors, doctors and friends, now approach you with caution, if at all. The streets that were once busy with cars, are now eerily quiet, while schools sit empty and people are ‘self-quarantined’ together for long periods wherever they live.
The day-to-day implications of living with COVID-19 became a reality very early on while I was doing something I love, walking in our neighborhood – I turned the corner on a sidewalk and saw a gal that is a walker like myself, someone that I have passed by many a time over the years – she looked up, saw me, then abruptly turned around and began to walk the other way. It was then that I realized that keeping your distance from others was now the way we had to live.
I got bit by the ‘nature’ bug at a fairly young age. Born into a family of five children, getting outside of the house was a ‘great escape’ from a home full of siblings that included three younger and ‘rowdy’ brothers. As the eldest, I was definitely a tomboy, making the most of living in rural Shelby County – be it playing hardball with the neighborhood kids, climbing trees, playing hide and seek or ‘tag’ in the nearby cornfields, or just sleeping out under the stars, the outdoors was definitely the preferred place to be. Training for the Sidney High School track and cross country team meant miles and miles of running on country roads over the years – with only an occasional car or neighborhood dog to contend with.
And, while I have found that life is mostly spent indoors once you become an adult – be it at home or at work – there is simply no substitute for taking time out of your day to step outside, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the day that Mother Nature has to offer. Research study after study finds that exposure to green spaces, be it parks, forests, etc., have a positive effect on reducing depression, anxiety and can be a factor in reducing mental health issues.
While social distancing is something that is here to stay for at least the near term, the City of Sidney has two natural treasures in the miles of trails and trees that can be accessed at both Tawawa Park and the Canal Feeder Trail. And, while the playgrounds are still off limits for little ones, Mother Nature is hard at work turning up the temperatures and coloring the world a beautiful shade of green – so, whether at a park, or just around the block, go out for a walk and take in the sights and sounds of your surroundings. It will do your body and mind good.
The writer is one of the key members who helped reorganize the Shelby County Historical Society and develop the award-winning JUST FOR KIDS program. References for this article include the Immigration Teacher’s Guide and a Sir Philip Sidney article (1997) written by David Lodge, research by Barbara Adams (1998), the History of Shelby County (1883 and 1913) and the Memoirs of the Miami Valley (1919).