Spring Beauty flowers in Renkl's yard.
(NYT photo by William DeShazer)
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the world looks a lot different than it did a month ago for most Americans: social distancing, layoffs, constant news updates about the newly infected and government measures. But our world is changing in a much older way, and taking the time to revel in it can help us stay calm, Tennessee writer Margaret Renkl writes in The New York Times.

Spring has arrived. "Out in the woods, the trout lilies are opening near toadshade and bloodroot and mayapple, all of them reaching up from the cold soil to bloom in the brief sunlight of early spring, before the trees leaf out and the forest overstory draws in all the available light," Renkly writes. "Pull up a weed from the wet soil of the water-drenched garden and smell the rich life the earthworm has left behind. Just a whiff of it will likely flood you with a feeling of well-being. The scent of freshly turned soil works on the human brain the same way antidepressants do."

Being out in nature comforts Renkl, reminding her that her own worries exist in the "larger context" of nature's rhythms. "I can scroll and worry indoors, or I can step outside and remember how it feels to be part of something larger, something timeless, a world that reaches beyond me and includes me too. The spring ephemerals have only the smallest window for blooming, and so they bloom when the sunlight reaches them. Once the forest becomes enveloped in green and the sunlight closes off again, they will wait for another year. Sunlight always returns the next year."

The op-ed reminds us of Kentucky farmer and poet Wendell Berry's timeless poem, "The Peace of Wild Things," in which Berry writes that being in nature eases his worries:
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.