My Green Spaces by Esther Nelson

I don’t do well being cooped up (staying at home) all day and every day.  Thankfully the state of Virginia, where I currently live, has kept their parks open during the COVID-19 pandemic.  For two months, I intentionally scheduled a “green space” time into my daily routine.  Usually I’d hike.  Sometimes I’d just sit in the car and look at the natural scenery in front of me.

The James River at Pony Pasture Rapids was my “go-to” place during the pandemic lockdown.  In addition to refreshing themselves by the river, people use Pony Pasture as their launching point for a variety of floatation devices, but mostly kayaks, to paddle around the river.

Pleasant Creek Trail is one among many paths along the James River at Pony Pasture.  After meandering a half mile or so, I came upon this view.  I call this scene “Entering the Emerald Forest.”

Showcasing Richmond, Virginia, in an attractive cityscape.  I walked along the floodwall to capture this Richmond skyline.

One day, I went to a local park (Maymont) and stared up at this tree like infants do with their mobiles hanging over their cribs.

Straight, sturdy tree trunk

Spreading its leafy branches

Green shelter in place

Richmond has had a goodly amount of rain this spring.  This is the James River after several inches of rain throughout the state.

Even when the rain came, I made it a point to get out of the house, sit in my car, dream a bit, and read from my Kindle for two or three hours.

Had a visitor one day while enjoying the sunshine and breathing in fresh air at Byrd park.

Bench-sitting alone
Cold winds blowing through the trees
Mother Goose visits

Earlier in the spring, I watched the dogwood tree bloom in my front yard.

Amidst clouds and chill
Nature still blooms pink and white
In my damp front yard

One of my favorite days at Pony Pasture Rapids put me in touch with this family.

Blessed be!

In sunnier weather, I’d visit beautiful, old Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.  From the web: “Hollywood Cemetery was designed in 1847 as a “rural” style garden cemetery to escape the grid-like monotony of city cemeteries. Landscape architect, John Notman, specifically left trees and other plants untouched when designing the cemetery’s landscape in order to create a peaceful haven for Richmonders. Today, our 135 acres of valleys and hills are covered with heritage roses, stately trees, and other blooms that live up to the name of a garden cemetery. In 2017, Hollywood Cemetery was named a recognized arboretum with the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program.”

One day I went hunting (and I did have to hunt!) for inscriptions that made me take notice.  There’s such a paucity of creative, interesting text on tombstones.  Of those I’ve seen so far, Andrea Smith Kauder’s is my favorite.  “Neal, Adam and Bryan–I love you very much. I thank everyone for visiting. Now go and be happy.”  Andrea died as a relatively young woman—44 years old.  I think I would have enjoyed knowing her.

And, I’m moving again!  Going to a condominium just three miles down the road from my current address in Richmond, Virginia.  Wonder where in the world I will eventually land.  I can’t seem to settle down in any one spot.  Here I am scrubbing the floor of my new condo in preparation for move-in.  My only green space on this day was the green gloves I used to protect my hands during the onerous chore.

My grandmother, Jessie, often told me, “Only way to clean a floor, honey, is to get on your hands and knees and scrub.”  Jessie was right.  Perhaps a fitting text on my tombstone might reflect the necessity of women’s domestic labor to keep the wheels of society moving.

She cleaned like a fiend

Hoping…yes, always hoping

For a little dirt.


Esther Nelson is an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va. She has taught courses on Human Spirituality, Global Ethics, Christian-Muslim Relations, and Religions of the World, but focuses on her favorite course, Women in Islam. She is the co-author (with Nasr Abu Zaid) of Voice of an Exile: Reflections on Islam and the co-author (with Kristen Swenson) of What is Religious Studies? : A Journey of Inquiry.

Categories: animals, Earth-based spirituality, Ecofeminism, General, Nature, Women's Voices

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14 replies

  1. I just love, love, love this post. I too do not do well being indoors all day. I am not an athlete or a rugged go-out -into- the-wild person, but I have to see the sun, blue sky and green spaces, and feel the wind and listen to, and watch the birds every day at least for a few minutes. This spoke to me in every possible way. Including the examination of headstones and the stories they told. Thank you! With aloha, Dawn


  2. Hope you enjoy your new home! Are you downsizing from a bigger house? I suspect you will settle in Richmond. Sounds like you love it there a lot. I was so pleased to see dogwood in bloom. Reminds me of my years in Connecticut many long moons ago. I just scheduled the movers for my move to Crete. After 2 overnight ferries on Th and Fri I will arrive on Sat morning next week very early!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Goddess speed!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wishing you the best, Carol, as you embark on your new destination. May it go smoothly. I’m moving to one-level living although I have no trouble going up and down stairs at the moment. However, condo living is relatively maintenance-free compared to a house. (My back growls at me every time I attempt a little bit of yard work.) And yes, I do like Richmond probably because my roots run deep and are well-anchored since moving here years ago.


  3. I loved seeing the photo journey…. like you I don’t do well staying in the house. The last 4 days have been monstrously hot and I have to face it – we’re struggling with another drought. May my favorite month has climbed into the nineties and had snow on the mountains on the 20th or so…. cold I can deal with but heat – no. I feel like a trapped animal when I am forced to stay indoors – depression strikes too – the heat does something to my brain… it drains it somehow… wonder if anyone eles feels this way…

    Hope that you are happy in your new home!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here, Sara! At least we have just had a little muggy, humid rain. I wish you refreshing rains followed by cool, sunny days!


    • Thanks, Sara, for your well wishes. Unlike you, though, I love hot weather–not so much muggy heat, but I still prefer it to bitter cold. Not sure if “condo-living” will do it for me, though. Time will tell! ;-)


  4. Esther, I love this post. I feel refreshed by these glimpses of your green spaces. Your haiku are gorgeous! The gravestone carries a good message for all of us. And your own haiku epithet is hilarious and profound. Thank you for timely and timeless sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Elizabeth. A positive of the “stay-at-home” scenario is that I’ve been able to just take the time and explore what’s around me in my particular geographical space. One of my favorite excursions was walking up and down and through alleyways in my neighborhood. Got a whole different perspective of the neighborhood!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love your photos! I’ve been to Virginia. It’s a beautiful, GREEN state. I was astonished by how green it was, by the grass and trees and flowers. We’ve got some beauty here in SoCal where I live, too, of course, but nothing like the lush green beauty where you live. Thanks for this gorgeous post.


    • Thanks, Barbara. It’s true. It’s green here. Lots of rainfall compared to southern California and other western states. I think there is beauty as you say in SoCal as well. Have always been fond of desert landscapes.


  6. Beautiful post I love your pictures, I thought I was the only one that can’t stand being indoors everyday all day long. I have to get out and see nature, I feel balanced when I’m in the forest, parks or any green spaces. I’m so glad that during this pandemic at least we can go to the parks and reconnect with nature.


    • Thank you, La Potosina, for your comment. You certainly are not the only one that can’t bear to be indoors all day long. There’s something suffocating about that scenario. Am so grateful for all the green spaces available in my geographic area. Here’s to fresh air and sunshine!

      Liked by 2 people

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