As a formidable virus swept the globe this past spring, nations put their citizens on lockdown all over the world. Here in New Jersey, one of the hardest hit areas in the United States, we were told to shelter in place and stay inside to bend the curve and save lives. As people worked remotely or were furloughed from their jobs, roads that were normally packed with traffic during the morning and evening commutes now remained mostly empty. Each night fell with the streets of our cities and towns eerily quiet and void of almost every trace of human life. Soon after, parks and gardens were shut down completely and spring - a season usually exuding rebirth and warmth - was overshadowed instead by the darkness and fear of an uncertain time.
One day turned into another, and with summer's approach, we bent the curve. Our parks and gardens slowly started to reopen. Once again, thousands of people in my state were free to go back to their favorite nature spots - to take a run or a hike in a beloved park, play with their children, or in my case pick up a camera.
On my first hike in a charming local park one misty morning, on a peaceful trail under the canopy of lush green forest foliage with birdsong filling the air, I paused and quietly cried. It was relief mostly. After what seemed like an eternity the past few months locked down inside my residence in town, I was finally home.