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A Helpful Hint for Hangin’ in There

April '20

If you’ve been self isolating, and keeping a ‘social distance’ from others you may find challenges in adapting to this new normal. I certainly do. Recently, I ordered some popcorn snacks as a present; they came in a can with a picture of a green frog dangling from a stick with the words, Hang in there. That phrase characterizes my usual response to the question of “How are you doing?” Maybe yours would also be, “I’m hanging in there.”

Like many folks, overall I’m fine, and deeply appreciate those who risk their well being and even their lives every day to help keep us all going. I still find some days great, and others taxing. I’m an extrovert, so the lack of daily human company is a bit draining for me. Maybe it is for you too, or maybe there are so many folks at home all the time right now, you find that draining.

Whatever the reason, these are demanding times. So I’m focusing this month’s newsletter on one hint for improving your mood during this pandemic. It’s simple, “connect with nature.” Poets have always known about the redeeming power of nature. For example, you can read the first stanza of Wordsworth’s poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.”

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

In addition to the poets, many scientific studies cite specific health benefits of time spent outdoors. A recent research review by Consumers Reports found links to reduced depression, increased social connectedness, and better sleep. Turns out being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature reduces stress. So why not give it a try?

I’m fortunate enough to be able to walk the nearby Princeton campus—a great break from life in a 1 bedroom apartment. Because of CoVid 19, the university grounds are devoid of students, and most folks out for a walk keep a safe ‘social distance.’ If not, there’s enough green space to move away from those who don’t. I thought I might it might be fun take you on a brief tour with some photos in this month’s newsletter.

I usually head for a small garden, because it broadcasts spring with bulbs continuously in bloom. First the daffodils trumpet the arrival of this happy season, as in Wordsworth’s poem. Then tulips pop up at different times, bringing a variety of bright colors to the landscape. Closer to the ground, the hyacinths cleanse the air with their commanding scent. At the edge of the garden, sits a lilac bush, where I often see passers-by stop to nestle their noses in the blossoms and imbibe their intoxicating smell.

Sometimes I find a surprise on my walks. One day I spotted a black squirrel scooting out from under a nearby tree, and now often encounter him in the same spot. I like to think he comes out just to say hello. I never saw black squirrels when I lived in New England, so this is novel treat. Another rarity I had not seen previously, are two yellow magnolia trees I found on campus—one blooming earlier than the other.

I always return home restored from these walks, for as Wordsworth notes in his final stanza:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

How about you? Where do you walk, or run, to find sustenance? And what do you observe en route? Or in what other ways do you brighten your days? Or your favorite nature poems. Please share to give all of us some ideas and encouragement.

Meanwhile, stay safe (and sane),



  1. Roberta Taylor said on May 1, 2020:

    You are spot on with this advice. I have always found looking at gardens and nature restorative. That’s why I still keep my garden going at almost 85 years of age.

  2. Liz Smith said on May 1, 2020:

    Hi Bonnie,

    This was so uplifting and positive!! Thank you so very much. Your walking tour with pictures brightened my day!

    I plan to order popcorn and take a book of poetry off the bookshelf to read. Have already been walking (when it’s not pouring rain).

    Best to you!!!
    Liz (Betty) Smith

  3. Bonnie said on May 1, 2020:

    Hi Roberta! Must be great to walk through your garden and watch the growth of all the plants and veggies!

  4. Bonnie said on May 1, 2020:

    Hi Liz! How great to hear from you! Glad to learn about your walking. Know what you mean about the rain. I let out a cheer whenever I see the sun these days!
    Best to you, too! Bonnie

  5. Janet said on May 5, 2020:

    That was so nice -yes Spring does enlighten you with all the colors

  6. Bonnie said on May 5, 2020:

    Hi Janet! So happy you enjoyed this venture! Bonnie

  7. Marybeth Toomey said on July 9, 2020:

    HI Bonnie,
    I’ve been faithfully reading your blog now for hears and have to smile every time, remembering our really great work together at Wellesley on behalf of the Davis Scholars. I see you have “retired” to NJ and assume that is to be closer to your sons. I haven’t had much contact with Wellesley folks since Lorraine passed but I wanted to say hello to you and hope all is well. Best, Marybeth

  8. Bonnie said on July 9, 2020:

    Hi Marybeth!

    How wonderful to hear from you, Marybeth! We did have many great times working together on behalf of the Davis Scholars. Our colleague, Pamela Daniels, once called those years, the golden years and she was right! Those are sweet memories. You guessed correctly, I moved to New Jersey to be nearer to my sons and their families. Happily my “retirement job” lets me live anywhere. The Wellesley folks I still have contact with are some Davis Scholar alums and some of my Wellesley classmates—to my great pleasure! What are you up to these days? Much love, Bonnie

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