Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Feeling guilty


I went out to my favorite park today. It was the first sunny day we’ve had in a long time, and the blue skies drew we outside. I felt like I’d be safe at the park, especially on the nature trails where I don’t usually see a lot of people during the week.

I miscalculated.

But before I get into that let me tell you about the most extraordinary thing that happened while I was in the woods. I had followed a popular trail half way around a lake. Every corner seemed to have more people and I wanted to find a quieter place in the trees, so I veered off onto an old, unmarked cross-country ski trail. I figured wherever it ended I’d recognize where I was and find my way back to the car. And no one else was walking that trail.

When I was quite far back into the woods, I noticed three red bellied woodpeckers screeching and chasing each other among the top of very tall trees. I stopped to watch. They stopped and watched me. In all my years visiting this park I’ve never had a red bellied come to my hand. Sometimes they’re interested, and they always take advantage of any seed I drop, but they’ve never landed on my hand.

Bet you can guess what happened today!

Yes, I was looking the other way, watching a chickadee decide whether to come in for a treat when I felt something with considerable weight land on my hand. I looked out of the corner of my eye and couldn’t believe what I saw. I had to really look, and I had plenty of time because he was sitting there eying me and considering which seed he wanted. He sat there and ate every single peanut out of my palm, leaving all the oilers, before he flew off.

I have no pictures because I had my long lens on the camera, too long to catch a shot of him sitting on my hand.

I refilled my hand and waited. I saw him, or one of his friends, come in for more treats from a long and high way off. He swooped down at what seemed to be breakneck speed, aiming directly for my hand, and landed with quite a bit of force. And once again we watched each other, eye to eye, as he swallowed down every peanut there.

He flew up on this tree after his snack.

Well! I decided if they were going to be this assertive I was changing my camera lens and grabbing a shot. But of course by the time I got the short lens on the camera they were long gone.

Still. It’s something I’ll never forget and I hope you can imagine.

Back to my miscalculation.

I figured the number of people at the park would be similar to most other weekdays that I’ve been there. But the parking lots were full. There were families with kids screaming and running everywhere. There were lots of individuals quietly walking too, but overwhelmingly there were groups of people tromping around the trails. It was noisy. It was crowded.

It felt like a Saturday, and then I realized that it might as well be a weekend day. Kids were no longer in school. People were off work. There will no longer be a difference between weekdays and weekends. I felt a small pang at the loss of my quiet weekday mornings at my favorite park.

And then I realized that none of us should have been there. That maybe we do need to close the parks. I know that people have been cooped up for a couple weeks, that kids are going crazy and need to expend some energy. But maybe that should be done in their own back yard.

And that’s where I’ll be staying into the foreseeable future.

Yesterday in the United States almost 1000 people died of the virus. The day before it was just over 900. When these kinds of numbers were being reported in Italy I couldn’t fathom the enormity. Now that enormity is here. Here in the states 5,713 people are dead, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So I realized, as I left my favorite park, that maybe I won’t be back any time soon. I will miss it. But it’s important that we all stay home. All of us. Stay home. That’s the only way we will get through this.

And on a lighter note, I had a successful grocery store venture this morning, though I spent twice what I would usually spend because I’m hoping not to go back for at least two weeks.

And look what I found!

Mama! I don’t know why you’re so excited about that…it’s not edible or anything.

But today’s post is not about the toilet paper…it’s about the realization that a stay-at-home order means just that. Stay at home. Don’t go to the park to walk. Walk around your neighborhood or your yard if your neighborhood is too busy. If your yard is too small then walk around your house. But stay away from everyone else.

It’s going to be hard. But we’re strong. We can do this.

We have to.

Time to clean up our act.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

37 thoughts on “Feeling guilty

  1. This was the reason that our Governor here in FL did not want to make us a stay-at-home state–he figured no one would listen. But with beaches, fishing piers and parks closed down–stay-at-home becomes effective midnight tonight. So many non-essential places are closed, people are working remotely, kids are in school online… Finally, my town is like a ghost town. Which is how it should be. Stay safe. Stay home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. But yet churches are open in Florida. Sounds like a recipe for disaster! Stay safe!


    • Lucky for me we recently moved into a home with two acres. Our yard is like a park, which is great for us and our dogs. I was sitting on my porch as many people were walking down the street. Most were walking their dogs, and practicing social distancing. I can’t imagine being in a crowded park. I wonder what the heck those people were thinking? Especially with all those kids running around. Very trying times indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hopefully people will be smart enough not to go to church. Or the beach, which I heard the GA governor opened this weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fantastic experience with the red belly! I’m sorry to have so many people out that now it will spoil it for everyone. Hang in there!


  4. I have a friend whose family is in Bologna, Italy in lock down. She gets very upset with people who drive anywhere other than for essential reasons. Stay home, means stay home. The logic is also if you have a vehicle accident, twist your ankle on the trail and have to go to hospital, you stretch even further the health system. I haven’t driven my car now in two and half weeks except twice to go for groceries. Staying home is safer given my age and diabetes. We will survive.


    • Yes, hopefully I won’t have to go back to the store for a couple weeks. I think we might be saving money with not going anywhere. Hard to say. Katie says she is bored but I try to keep her entertained by doing things like clipping her nails. LOL.


  5. First, I CANNOT believe you had a Red Bellied eat from your hand. I got chills just thinking about it. What a wonderful moment. I no longer go out either, our parks are closed, but people still seem to be congregating in public places. I sit in my yard or on the patio, but will no longer go running. Stay home means stay home. Good score on the TP. Stay well and safe my friend


    • You stay well, too. I think I have enough TP to get us through several weeks. Or to give away if any of my neighbors need any. I was thrilled to find a package the size I used to buy once every few months. The Red Bellied was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I feel your joy about the woodpecker through your words. And your photo of the little rascal is great. I’m finding that around here more people are out and about in the afternoons when I usually go for my daily walk. It’s weird to see people then when I often have the streets to myself. I Liked your photo of TP, making it the third pic of TP I’ve liked this week– and I find that in and of itself weird. But glad you got what you needed.


    • That amount of TP will get us through months…unless we give some of it away which we likely will. It IS weird to see so many people walking in our neighborhood. I’ve been retired 5 years so I’ve been home, and I’ve never seen so many people walking their dogs. Guess with everyone working from home the dogs get lots more attention!

      The woodpecker was simply amazing. I hope I have him come eat out of my hand again some day.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So fun about the woodpecker. It’s a dilemma for sure. While I feel that people should be able to take a walk with or without their dog, too many people are just using the off time to have unnecessary gatherings. Which messes it up for everyone else.


    • Yep. Though I can understand needing to set the kids free to run, I really didn’t appreciate having screaming, running children all over “my” normally peaceful nature trails.


  8. Yes, what fun with the woodpecker! And, unfortunately, yes to staying at home. It’s hard, I know. People like to be out and about, and staying in home and yard drives some people crazy. Yet, that’s what must be done. Clif and I are fortunate in that our home is in the woods. Our yard is not large, but it’s big enough for us to be content as we sit on our patio and watch the fluttering beauties come to our bird feeders. Finally, always a treat to see a picture of that darling dog.


    • Katie is truly confused. Though we’ve been home with her, retired from work, for several years now, she’s using to going places, lots of parks, lots of walks. She’s bored. But I try to keep her amused. She’s quite demanding on that front.

      The woodpecker was amazing and I’m so glad I went down that unmarked trail and found him (or her, it happened so fast I didn’t notice which it was!)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Drake Park here is closed and now they said this morning with Michigan being such a hot spot we should make our own masks (out of bandanas etc) and wear them whenever we shop. Haven’t gone to any park. You have to be careful of where you sit and what you touch there too. Lucky you with the toilet paper, still can’t find it. Stay safe and lol about the bird! Nervy ass bird!


  10. A woodpecker eating right out of your hand?? Oh, that’s just too much, Dawn! Yes, I can see it in my imagination and can nearly feel the weight of his body on my own hand — well done! We’ve been “isolated” in Illinois for a while now. Still, the numbers of infected, hospitalized, and dying are rising — it’s a scary time, and staying home seems to be the best recourse. It’s unfortunate no one can tell us when this whole thing will pass though.


    • We have to remain patient and flexible. In fact the post was going to be about flexibility, at the grocery store and with our own daily tasks…but the reality hit me so hard when I was at the park that I had to write about that instead.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I bet you didn’t take a breath or bat an eye – what a marvellous experience with the bird. It feels almost like a portent. Perhaps a final opportunity to REALLY be with nature for a while.

    Be well. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. We went through the same experience in California: hey, you can’t go to work or movies, but you can go out to the parks! And so everybody did. And now most of them have at least closed their parking lots and nearby parking, and many are closed completely. The next County up from us, between San Jose in San Francisco, in its latest regulation announced a couple of days ago says, if you’re more than 5 miles from home for any reason, you’ve gone too far.
    For years I took the dogs for a walk at least once a day and almost never saw anyone outside, and I think I commented on my blog probably off and on, hey, it’s a beautiful day, where is everyone? Now, it is still not jampacked on the sidewalks, but I will undoubtedly pass someone on the opposite side of the street, or someone on a bicycle, or someone crossing the street ahead going somewhere else: in other words, at any time, I can actually see someone else outside. As long as they are nowhere near me at all, I’m fine with that.
    Your experience with the woodpecker: wow wow wow! That is so cool!


    • Yes, my husband commented yesterday as we watched a woman walk her dog down the street that he had never seen so many people out and he didn’t even know where they lived. And we live on a dead end street!


  13. What a wonderful experience with the woodpecker that must have been! I still can’t fathom what it’s like to have a bird eat out of your hand. I think our birds must be too wild (don’t see enough people). I have to settle for turtles and deer. 🙂

    We still have people going out and about here, more so than they should be. I keep wanting to tell them that we might be able to get through this faster if everyone would just do their part. It’s not that hard (ok, sometimes it DOES feel hard, but it really isn’t).


  14. Dawn, it was worth you going outdoors to have that birding experience! I was so jealous when I read that and I would have died and gone to heaven, but no pic to capture the occasion! I’ve done a lot of hanging out in my backyard, too, getting my garden areas ready, planting another batch of sunflowers from seedlings, and pulled out the plumerias now that warmer weather is here. We get a lot of birds in our yard, too now! Enjoy your time at home and soon we will all be rewarded with freely moving about!


  15. This is a great post. I can relate to your experience with a crowded park (not the one with the bird, that is amazing!) Last weekend one of my colleagues asked me if I wanted to do a hike in a nearby outdoor area, while keeping distances of course. I was very tempted, but my daughter was tired and needed rest, so I declined. my colleague went there by herself, it’s a big area and usually you don’t see a lot of people after leaving the parking lot. Last weekend the trails were spot crowded that you barely saw anything but people! My colleague left without even entering the trail system. Thank you for your post.


    • Everywhere I’ve tried to be outside by myself has been unusually overrun by people. While I’m glad they are getting out there I am worried that none of us are following the new rules in the way they were meant to be upheld. And that maybe we are putting us all at more risk than we need to. On the other hand, staying in my own yard is hard.


  16. WOW – I’ve never had a wild bird come that close to me. I’d be the same as you were – prepared for the long lens instead of the one that would work for a bird in hand shot! So far we’ve been able to walk around our neighborhood and stay clear of most people. I’m sure it’s ‘cuz we go early in the morning. We do have one neighbor who tries to get a bit too close – he spits when he talks too. Sigh. We did see a couple of high schoolers who were dressed as though they told their parents they were going for a run. Instead they were walking hand-in-hand slowly together. Social distancing is tougher on some than others – despite all the advertising and notices to stay home. I’m with you in the advice to stay home. PS – glad you got some TP!!! Take care, stay well, stay home!


  17. That would have been so amazing having the woodpecker land on your hand. And you are so right about ‘stay at home.’


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