During the first few months of the pandemic, my loud Brooklyn neighborhood was perfectly silent - the kind of quiet that occurs for an evening when 12 inches of snow has fallen. There were no cars driving on the streets, no people pounding the sidewalks, even the constant river of planes overhead was gone.
As the quiet persisted, days turning into weeks, without the usual distractions, I found myself watching closely the magnolia tree in our backyard. This gigantic tree not only fills our yard but the neighbors’ yards on both sides as well. I watched as the tree awoke from dormancy of winter into a full regalia of pink blooms; then letting go of the petals, into an ugly-duckling stage (also so beautiful); and finally, into her green summer leafing. The yard around her changed dramatically, rose bushes budded, bleeding hearts pushed through the dirt, as we, inside, stayed in the same immobile state. Nature seemed oblivious to us humans who had seemed, before the pandemic, the ones in control.