April 2020 (Autumn in Australia) — Canberra Walks Off The Covid-19 Crisis.
Never have so many Canberrans taken to the streets. Not to protest, but to walk.
It rained. The sun shone. An urban forest revived after drought; too late for some trees. Spring migrants like the Caper White butterfly feasted on autumn weeds. Little dumpies (Diplodium truncatum) emerged from leaf litter to greet the day and would-be pollinators. And the people came in their hundreds to traipse over woodland and reserve, grateful for the reprieve from summer’s hell, as they waited for the virus nightmare to end.
An abundance of caution was met with an abundance of energy. Spring-like, flowers bloomed in maximum profusion. There was a stand-off at the bird bath between unlikely combatants. Feral goldfinches, seen in ever diminishing numbers as the city expands, congregated on feral hawthorn, the latter strangely stricken and unadorned. Overhead, cockatoos wheeled and screeched in peach fuzz sky, flying home for the evening.
I walked my suburb in the luminous sun, all the while feeling strangely detached. Autumn glow nestled around me. I tried to shrug it off but it persisted. I stopped to talk to people about photography. They postulated that it was a fine time for landscape photography. I didn’t have the courage to tell them that I was hunting ravens. Still, I managed to take a lot of photos through the shadows.
My favourite annual outing, the National Folk Festival, that is normally held over Easter each year at National Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC), was cancelled. A drive-in Covid-19 testing centre was set up there in its stead. By the end of April, 93 people had died of Covid-19 in Australia, including three in the Australian Capital Territory. This compares to the more than 200,000 people that have died across the globe. Canberra is now officially Covid-19 free with no active cases. I can now cross the state border to visit friends and family. We will visit Yass Cemetery. Did our friends, the resident magpie population, miss us? I’ve missed them. It is something to look forward to.
I’m over “living in the moment”, ladies and gentlemen. It is a temporary survival strategy at best, but it is not sustainable. We have an obligation to plan for a sustainable future, for a healthy world. Like planning for a pandemic and a competent response to the Covid-19 crisis, a sustainable future requires a focus on collective well-being at the expense of individualism. Those with no capacity beyond just surviving — our vulnerable people, species and ecosystems — require our blame-free, disdain-free help (not charity). A sustainable, compassionate future takes investment. It takes empathy. It takes leadership. It takes our cooperation. Responding to the threats to our health and livelihood posed by human-induced climate change requires the best planning and execution of those plans that mankind can muster. We should expect no less.
Here’s a song I heard at the National Folk Festival a few years ago. I hope the festival survives. The event organisers lost everything. You can’t insure against a pandemic. Events might not always go to plan, but it is still a good idea to have one — a plan for the future and something to look forward to.
This is my response to The Changing Seasons — April 2020 photo challenge, hosted by the lovely Su at Zimmerbitch.