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Something Wild: One Year Later

Dave Anderson
Sugar Shack Selfie a la Dave Anderson

About this time one year ago life in New Hampshire and across the world changed drastically.

In this week's Something Wild, we re-visit  musings from Dave Anderson in how to find solace in nature-- even during the most stressful of times. 


Daily life changed gradually, then all at once.  We now find ourselves at home practicing our best “social distancing” protocols. Incredible technology allows us to stay connected, and that’s fantastic.

But it’s ok to put the phone down. It’s ok to turn down the news from time to time, and take a long walk outside in nature. This week, I took my own advice.

Amidst the simple beauty of nature, I draw one deep breath… and then another.

In the forest, I glimpse a furtive movement - beyond the shoulder of the rural, dirt road.

One handsome squirrel sits perched on a fallen log, slowly twirling a hemlock cone in its forepaws. In the warm morning sunlight, he yawns…unimpressed with my presence. In his narrow economy, it’s spring and the kitchen larder of conifer cone seeds is running low.

Above me, a March wind coaxes a flock of bluebirds to an open, sodden pasture.

Springtime arrives this year, just as the bluebirds do– hopeful, tentative, uncertain.

Eventually, I make my way back home, taking my time.

By a nearby bird feeder I see a flock of 60 or 70 goldfinches. The males have begun to turn bright yellow in splotches as their new feathers grow-in, their summer, breeding plumage.

I watch chickadees, white breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice and juncos. These hardy birds have been with us all winter. Their dark, inquisitive eyes lock-in as they watch me refill a tube feeder. I’m drawn to consider their realities; I wonder what they’re thinking. They don’t waste time considering the same about me.

And for a moment…just a few moments… it feels just like any other springtime in New Hampshire.

Maple sap is pulsing in the sugaring lines, filling the roadside tanks with the promise of boiling maple sap to sweet-scented steam. I speculate about the inevitability of an abrupt end of maple season at bud burst. 

Maybe it’ll happen gradually…and then all at once.

But Spring is here. I doubt I’ve ever been more grateful for its arrival.

At an unprecedented time when our world feels smaller than ever; when we’re told to keep our distance from one another, there may be no better solace than time spent outdoors. 

And you needn’t scale a 50-foot ice wall, or brave Tuckerman Ravine to feel renewed, or experience a sense of wonder in the great outdoors. 

It’s possible to find a moment of peace in our own backyards; or by bringing your child to a nearby field so she can fly her kite, or simply watching a flock of goldfinches at your birdfeeder.

When you think about it, we’re fortunate for our proximity to natural areas, conservation lands where we can quiet our thoughts, and find comfort in something that’s free, readily available, and precious.

The restorative power of Nature - warm sunlight on your face, a few deep breaths and a wellspring of fresh perspective - await right outside your door.

Naturalist Dave Anderson is Senior Director of Education for The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, where he has worked for over 30 years. He is responsible for the design and delivery of conservation-related outreach education programs including field trips, tours and presentations to Forest Society members, conservation partners, and the general public.
Before becoming Program Director, Quirk served as NHPR's production manager. During that time she's voiced and crafted the 'sound of the station,' coordinated countless on-air fundraisers, produced segments for Give Back NH, Something Wild, New Hampshire Calling, and developed NHPR's own NHPR Music vertical with features such as Live from Studio D, and long-loved favorites like Holidays By Request.

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