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Nature and the new lifestyle in the summer of COVID-19

10th August 2020

Following her earlier post, Hanna Tamminen looks back on lockdown and the challenges and opportunities it brought for those with a love of nature

Five months have now passed since the beginning of lockdown – an event which marked a true change of lifestyle for us all in the first few weeks of March. Now the lockdown has eased off after a spring and summer of isolation that has taken us off from our hectic lives to a world of zoom meetings, emails, skype calls and socially distanced hugs, a look back to a few months ago, now that we have learned to manage the isolation better than before, is well due. Much has changed since my last Lockdown Naturalist article, Bioblitz from my Bedroom Window.

I can’t help but direct my first point of view to the importance of little glimpses of real-life among the internet filled days of lectures online, zoom meetings and skype calls to friends, and draw attention to the small moments of tranquillity. A cup of tea in the garden, a stroll down the woods, where birds sing, insect-buzz-galore, branches snap underfoot and the fresh air fills your lungs, or a look at the various birds gathered to visit the old lady next door that feeds the avian companions of the neighbourhood. These moments have kept me going the most, as social distancing away from friends and family and the busy streets of Newcastle have been subsidised drastically. Nature carries on, and so does life – the important lesson learned after the first week of corona dread, while everything was stood still, key workers barely coping, and the stress levels of the whole country skyrocketed. In retrospect, nature has helped bring perspective to isolation amongst all the stress; the seasons changed, summer arrived – a magpie family appeared to occupy the oak tree in the yard, with the young’ uns screams unsettling the peace of the house once more.

Secondly, the social isolation – avoiding crowds, not going to the library to work, visiting shops infrequently and missing planned social activities – has shown the value of the naturalist community. Friendly faces, mates from school or work, and the belonging to naturalist circles have proved their worth. My pre-lockdown life consisted of weekly Friday night Talks, attending university for lectures, seminars, workshops and so forth, as well as seeing friends outside of school. The lack of social interaction has been hard – oh how I missed small talk! As the lockdown has eased off, restaurants and pubs have opened, and more and precious interaction is safer to maintain, I have gained perspective of social interactions within academia and especially naturalist circles. Similar interests, bringing people together about their most precious plants, insects, bumblebees, badgers, and seals! How grand it is to have a not-so-little society like ours, having talks, workshops, nature reserve and the museum to visit? I tip my interactive cap to you, naturalists!

To conclude, the lockdown has been a great challenge to all, especially the people working the most necessary jobs, from nurses and bus drivers, the staff at zoos and carers. Thank you from my behalf! The challenges of isolation, social distancing and overall lockdown the past spring and summer are far from over, but a look back on the changes to our ways of life is important. Remember to cherish both people and nature, to look outside your window, take time for a stroll at the seaside or tend your garden. Most of all, stay safe and enjoy the outside world!

About the author

Hanna Tamminen is a Finnish national who moved to the North East to study Physical Geography at Newcastle University in 2016.  She graduated from Newcastle University in 2020. With a keen interest in geomorphology and conservation science, she is an active participant on the NHSN Student Naturalist Awards Scheme.  She spent her lockdown in Gateshead, photographed here in her backyard with the family cat, Maks.

You can follow Hanna on Instagram at @taminseikkailut