It was mid-April when I realized I hardly knew one day from the next. Monday felt like Thursday, and weekends passed as quietly as faded memories. Interrupted routines, and stymied work and social activity have wreaked havoc with anything resembling a timetable. The Covid-19 virus has changed everything. Well, except for one thing – walking the dog.

Every morning at 7 a.m. a friend meets me by my mailbox with her little dog Lilly. The two of us then soldier off into the dawn wondering out loud how long this pandemic will go on. Some mornings sub-zero temperatures and icy walkways tempt us to stay home, but we don’t. More recently the longer days and earlier sunrises have made our doggie enterprise more inviting. And that isn’t all.

We’ve noticed that the discontinuity and troubling news that eclipses much of the day is absent from our early morning hikes. The noise that holds us hostage indoors – the polarized arguments and dire predictions spouting from our televisions and computers—can’t hold a candle to the promising sounds and sights we witness on the walking path. The sun rises in orderly silence. Frogs and toads break into song from a half frozen pond along the Dakota Trail. Even 20 degrees and driving snow, can’t stop male and female cardinals singing to each other, building their bond and preparing to mate and raise their brood. Red twig dogwood emerges from the ditches, and a pileated woodpecker is pounding its way through a fallen oak tree across the road. It’s magic!

It also fosters hope that the joy of spring and renewal of life does not stop there—even in the face of a pandemic and the chaos surrounding it.

So, today once more we headed out into a chilly April morning. Only this morning I took note of every budding sign of spring. Every Redwing- Blackbird call of “conk-la-ree.” Every squirrel hoarding acorns. Every barn cat surveying its territory. Every redpoll on the feeder. It struck me that maybe… just maybe this miracle of new life that has delivered my neighbor and me from despair has also been showing us what healing and renewal can look like.

Now if only we humans can pay attention.