How We Have Spent Our Time in The Great Pause

Guest Bloggers Reply

Readers offered their activities in The Great Pause. Most were home-centered with some careful forays into society. And, of course, connecting with self and nature.

SA: My mother was in a nursing home in Bettendorf. Visitors were prohibited but I was able to wave to her and blow kisses through a glass door. After 3 weeks of isolation from family, she passed away on March 31. We could not have a proper funeral due to the virus. It was not how I imagined her life would end. My husband still had to go to work every day so my days were spent in solitary isolation.

Gardening Offers Solace

Young Wren

Looking out at the world.

Once the weather warmed up, I spent hours in the garden and puttering in the flower beds. I cleaned out my garden shed and found an old birdhouse one of the boys had built-in Cub Scouts 20 years ago, I painted it and hung it in our ash tree. A wren immediately investigated.


I had twice-weekly Zoom meetings for an organization I belong to. I acquired the Audible version of Stephen King’s unabridged book “The Stand”–which I read back in the late 70s–but at 1,000 pages, I chose to listen to it instead. (That took 45 hours.) Listening to it while I cooked, cleaned house, and drove around was entertaining and frightening, considering the subject matter.

Connecting with Nature

Goats Lounging

Leisure in the pasture.

Steve and I walked outside every day, hiked the Amana Nature Trail, Pleasant Creek Park, FW Kent Park, and others. On one cold, overcast day, we climbed into the car and drove backcountry gravel roads in the area east of Solon, with no idea where they led or where we would end up. We were rewarded with beautiful pastoral landscapes, green pastures dotted with peeks of sunshine between dark clouds, and a delightful trio of baby goats scampering in a pen next to the road. We were able to get out of the car and interact with them for a while. Such a joy in these dark times to watch new life scamper about, trying out their legs.

“Music Speaks Louder Than Words….”

JH: Well, I’ve spent almost every day since the middle of March on return from Florida playing every single piece of music that’s been stacked in the closet for many moons. I’ve kept certain pieces aside so that I can call a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a business person, and play and sing a song to them over the phone. Some of the music is from 1897 and much of it is from the early 1900s to the mid-1970s. It’s been a total blessing to me and everyone has been most appreciative and one friend shed a few tears because her mom and dad’s favorite song was “Cruising Down the River” which I didn’t know when I selected it.

I’ve also written numerous Corner Shot articles and sent them to the Roanoke Times. Several of my articles have been posted in the master gardener’s newsletter. I’ll keep on keeping until we can mingle and hug one another again.

Self Care & Connecting

KK: Submitted to cataract surgery and nursed eyes back to health. Put in many eye drops. Learned a new healing skill. Spend too many hours on Zoom. Wore and washed the same few clothes over and over. I practiced gratitude.

a finger labyrinth

Calming through writing.

Joined a new church in another city via Zoom. Ventured out to a couple of restaurants open at 50% and ate outside. Found a Tai Chi class on the labyrinth at the park. Made finger labyrinths. Washed clothes. Did much personal growth work. Wrote someone a letter and mailed it via snail mail. Received a letter in return. Planned a retreat that may not happen this year. Cleaned out desk and found someone else’s treasure, mailed it to them. Washed clothes. Did online Yoga. Washed more clothes….

Overlands Create a Wondrous Urban Sanctuary

Winding Path

This intriguing winding path beckons visitors into the backyard.

A short winding pathway around the home of Scott and Jan Overland leads to a wondrous backyard that’s an oasis of privacy and peace within bustling Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Butterflies flitted about as a hummingbird sipped nectar from an obedient plant as we toured the yard.



“When we first moved here the landscaping was traditional and sparse, and at first we tried to maintain it that way. But then we changed course and began adding interesting plants that make our yard beautiful.  It’s a fun project,” said Scott Overland, who is a professional financial adviser and member of the Cedar Rapids City Council.



Rich and Scott

Rich and Scott share backyard delights

A special aspect of the Overland’s yard is how it has engaged them in nature and the environment. “We visit nurseries to learn about plants and sometimes add new ones.  It’s a wonderful learning experience.” he said. A barred owl occasionally serenades them from a hemlock tree near the house bringing sounds of the deep woods to their neighborhood.




French drain

Scott shows the French drain, named for its inventor, Henry French, from Massachusetts in the mid 1800s.

There’s more. The diverse and beautiful yard absorbs storm water better than if it were traditionally landscaped. “Nowadays storms have more intensity than they once did and our yard absorbs most of the rain that falls on it. We installed a French drain to further help water enter the soil and avoid flowing into storm sewers that would add to downstream flooding,” he said.








Glimpses of comfort and color welcome visitors.

The Overlands demonstrate that a yard needn’t be big to be beautiful and ecologically healthy. They’ve created a magical space on a quarter acre lot not far from downtown.