Nature’s Stimulus Check

Ian Stewart

The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades — these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.

The author of these poignant words is uncertain although they appear in the frontispiece of my favorite childhood book, Brendon Chase (1944) by ‘BB’ (later revealed to be a pen name for the English naturalist Denys Watkins-Pitchford). It’s a lively story about three teenage brothers who run away from home to live in the local wood (or ‘chase’ in England) and its bucolic tales of birds, butterflies, hunting and fishing have stayed with me ever since.

A recent milestone reminded me of these words and the value of taking time to smell the roses and appreciate the everyday beauty of your natural surroundings. Today (March 24th) marks one year since Delaware issued its stay-at-home order. None of our lives have been the same since and some of us have suffered heavy personal loss. However, with spring comes hope. Spring is perhaps my favorite season because it is a metaphor for positivity. We have thrown off the heavy overcoat of a long cold, snowy winter and are ready to feel the warm sun and see new life emerging.

Common milkweed shoots pushing through the soil

The days are now full of the raspy ‘fee-bee’ call of Eastern Phoebes and the croaks and bubbles of a variety of frogs. Soon the spring ephemeral wildflowers will be lending some color to our woods, but what I personally look forward to is seeing the buds of our shrubs and trees burst forth. Not many people look closely at buds, which is a pity as they have a subtle beauty, and it is fun to see how much they vary between species (see the slideshow below).

These fresh, vibrant leaves peeking out from their dry, tough coats reflects the optimism I have for the summer ahead, especially at DelNature. Our staff and program participants are well practiced at following safety protocols so I expect our programs and camps to run smoothly and be an enjoyable experience for all. We still have openings on our field trips and adult education programs so if you want to learn about nature both virtually and in person check out our website at I am happy to report that our popular Native Plant Sale is going ahead with online ordering under the appropriate theme of ‘Hope Blooms’.

Many of us recently received a one-time stimulus payment from the government yet if we use our senses, nature gives us a small stimulus for free every day. Have you ever got down on your knees and enjoyed a close look at a spring ephemeral wildflower? How about taken a deep breath in a damp mossy forest or stroked the fuzzy fronds of a fern? Or really listened to the gorgeous song of a Wood Thrush emanating from a sunny glade on a warm summer morning? We’re lucky to have these simple pleasures all around us.

Look ye also while life lasts.

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