A Small Change of Scenery

Everybody makes jokes these days about being home and available 24/7. And though it’s nice to know how reachable we have all become, with nine months of sheltering in place, most of us are beginning to suffer from sameness. We wake up in the same room, eat our meals at the same table, follow nearly identical routines day after day after day. We just don’t have that much room for variety. We can go for walks as far and as wide as we want, we can watch a staggering variety of shows on our television, we can take courses, attend concerts, visit with friends on line. But no matter what we do and no matter how much we strive to inject variety into our lives, we are bound mainly to one location.

Last Saturday, Stephen and I decided to break away. We needed a change of scene and routine, so we headed to the Sacramento Wildlife Preserve, near Willows, CA, about an hour and a half drive from our home in Berkeley. During normal times, when we’re busy living our much more varied lives, dining with friends, visiting with our grandchildren, shopping for food at multiple stores—the greengrocer, the cheese shop, Trader Joes, the Asian mall—taking trips, meeting with clients, we don’t often have the three hours commute time necessary to make such a trip.

And for some reason, once the shelter-in-place orders came down, we stopped thinking about making day trips. Instead, we all hunkered down in our safe zones, inoculating ourselves from feeling deprived by channeling our lives into routines the likes of which we could never have dreamed pre-Covid.

But last Saturday we broke out and spent a delightful afternoon at the preserve, where the sun was big and bright, and the air was in the low 60’s. Stephen and I had each brought our camera, and as we wandered about on foot and following the automobile route through the marshes filled with ducks and swans and geese, we shot photos. First the reflections captivated us: images reflected in the water, where you cannot tell the sky from the ground, where the rich circularity of life revealed itself, and where I was able to discern the perfection in that circularity.

Next, as we drove along the route designated for cars, we stopped again and again to capture in our lenses the profusion of wildlife–ducks of so many stripes, raptors high in the trees alongside the road, tiny birds flitting among the lower branches. Each time we opened the window, the tsunami of winged calls hit us again, all those creatures expressing themselves, finding their place among the thousands of voices in their particular neighborhood. Our photos capture a celebration of birds and clouds and sky and marsh plants, and our memories provide the accompanying sound track.

As you can tell, all week long I have been remembering and reliving our excursion. One day, one itinerary, one destination offered me enough joy to last for at least six days. Likely longer.

Sacramento Wildlife Refuge
Photo by Jane Anne Staw

4 thoughts on “A Small Change of Scenery”

  • As you know, I lived in CA all of my life until moving to CO in 2013 — and I never visited this reserve, even though I knew it was there. So, thanks for taking us along — and reminding us of how most of us have this option (well, here once more snow melts). Now, how about some more photos?!

  • WONDERFUL WRITING, JANE , I took the little excursion with you, even imagining the chirping and warbling–DELIGHTFUL!!

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