The current pandemic outbreak of COVID-19 has certainly brought about unprecedented changes and much uncertainty to our world and to our local communities here lately. It has even changed the very …
The current pandemic outbreak of COVID-19 has certainly brought about unprecedented changes and much uncertainty to our world and to our local communities here lately. It has even changed the very way that we speak and communicate ... prior to a few weeks ago how many of us had even heard the term “social distancing” let along used it in a sentence, and for that matter how many of us ever talked about ways to “flatten the curve."
As I said, these are certainly unprecedented times. It is my hope that each of you are safe AND healthy and that you are indeed practicing our social distancing by avoiding public gatherings and any places where there are social activities. I know at my house, we have over the years grown accustomed to the endless string of school kids coming over at all hours of the day and night, sleepovers, school programs and activities of all descriptions, and all the other things that are associated with “normal life” have all come at least temporarily to an end. The bottom line is that we need to carefully follow the guidelines and recommendations of our centers for disease control, our local, state, and national health departments and governments. We must all do our parts to help protect each other.
Even prior to the current virus outbreak, I was a very frequent handwasher (almost obsessively so). Other than social distancing, handwashing is probably the most critical and important thing that we can do to keep ourselves and others healthy. While hand sanitizer gels and other products are great, they may be currently hard to find and besides a good 30 second hand washing with simple soap and water will do just as good or even better at preventing the spread of germs and viruses including COVID-19.
Self-quarantining is another new addition to not only our vocabulary but also to our daily routines. Let me encourage you that while we practice self-quarantining especially with kids as a part of the household, it does not mean that we must stay locked up in our living rooms for 24 hours a day while watching all the bad doom and gloom news on television and social media. It is important of course to stay up to date on the latest news and health guidelines, but it is also important to give yourself and your mind an occasional break from all the nonstop bad news.
We have been having some truly great spring weather here the past few days. Here are a couple great suggestions for giving yourself a break, getting a little physical activity, and maintaining “social distancing” all at the same time. Take frequent walks around your own backyard or neighborhood. There are so many things in bloom right now that can be enjoyed. In and along the edges of the woods our flowering dogwoods are now in bloom, and while drought conditions from years past have reduced their numbers, they are really quite showy this year. Fringe trees or “Grancy Graybeard” as they are called are also in flower right now. Our native redbuds are just finishing their bloom but I still see many of them in flower, and even our native red buckeyes are blooming right now – these make really good hummingbird plants because of their showy red tubular shaped flowers.
Local landscapes are also full of blooms. Our azaleas are in full bloom in yards and landscapes all over the neighborhood. We even have several species of native azaleas that are deciduous (lose their foliage during the winter season) that are in full bloom. My next door neighbor has an orange blooming Florida flame azalea that is just spectacular. Flowering cherries including Yoshino and others are blooming and many others as well. My iris bulbs are also beginning to bloom as well as a host of other perennials around the landscape. All this to say that there is so much to look at and enjoy (and even take a few photos of) without having to violate any social distancing rules.
Another great activity is home gardening. My son and I just prepared the soil and planted a zinnia bed which will give us blooms throughout the summer and will also attract butterflies which we enjoy watching. His favorite part was getting to use the wonderful “organic fertilizer” that our 4-H chick chain chickens provided for us (ok, so that really wasn’t his favorite part I just thought it was cool). Zinnias are a great flowering crop to grow especially with kids….they are virtually foolproof, easy to plant and grow from seed, and they produce blooms of a variety of shapes, colors, and textures. Sunflowers are another easy flowering crop to grow with your kids (and they are also edible).
Everyone needs to take heart, we will sometime soon get through all the issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and people will once again sit down and eat at restaurants, enjoy sporting events, go back to the movies, and all the other normal things that we do. Someday we will even be able to go to the grocery store and buy bread and toilet paper again. But until then please keep practicing your social distancing and self-quarantining, and wash your hands frequently….very frequently! Don’t forget to give yourself frequent breaks from all the worry and stress from all the COVID-19 news, and get out in your backyard to enjoy the weather, flowers, and maybe even do a little gardening yourself or with your kids. The Walker County Extension office has lots of great information on our website at www.aces.edu or let me also encourage any of you who do facebook to follow our Walker County Extension Office facebook page where we post updates and and new information daily.
Please take care of yourselves and stay safe and stay healthy ... and don’t forget to wash those hands!