In March, before my vacation activities along the Gulf of Mexico began closing because of the coronavirus outbreak, I was able to go on a dolphin cruise. We rode out for over 15 minutes without a sighting, and then the captain spotted a pod. He maneuvered the boat to travel in the direction the dolphins wanted to go. The dolphins’ sleek bodies appeared only feet from the stern. They sometimes leaped out of the water so we could see their entire bodies. I’d been fortunate enough to witness this several times before, but this day had a bonus. The dolphins used the boat’s wake to surf alongside us, catching the extra wave power like the boogie boarders I’d seen earlier in the day. Wondering if it was a way for dolphins to conserve energy, I asked the captain why they did it. His reply was, “For the sheer joy of it.”
In these stressful times, I hope you’re finding activities which bring you joy. Staying connected with loved ones, even if it’s only through phone calls or video chats, lifts spirits. Getting outside to garden or walk and having the chance to listen to the cheerful birds singing away and telling us the long winter is over will also lift spirits.
Park fees are temporarily waived so visiting a nearby park, as long as we practice social distancing and keep up our hand washing, is sure to improve our moods.
April will be a great time to catch up on reading and, if children or grandchildren are in the home, take advantage of the many free e-books and teaching activities. Online articles such as “18 At-Home Ideas To Keep Kids Busy And Entertained During The Coronavirus Outbreak” are full of learning opportunities. You’ll find at least one they’ll want to do “for the sheer joy of it.”
This is a perfect time to take advantage of the many offers of free classes, activities, virtual museum tours, or e-books. (See my note at the bottom for my latest book.) Check out the CBS March 20, 2020, article “Looking for something to do while quarantined?” for details and links. I began by exploring
the free courses listed in the article. I ended up getting carried away and signed up for four. I’m partly through Yale’s popular “The Science of Well-Being” class which focuses on what people mistakenly think will make them happy vs. what truly brings happiness. I’m eager to learn more. When I complete that one, I’ll go on to the others which involve my passion, writing.
I seized the opportunity to click on the Metropolitan opera link listed and watched part of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, which was streaming for free. On the day this paper comes out, the opera, which has had to suspend all live performances, will stream Wagner’s Siegfried.
The article also lists various fitness studios offering free workouts including yoga, dance, and more vigorous high-intensity calorie burners. Sports fans can stream archived games and bonus footage for free. Museum and art lovers can explore Google Arts and Culture and view impressive, high-resolution images of artwork from around the world and “tour” famous museums.
I joyously viewed the Cincinnati zoo’s first Home Safari, which focused on hippos. I met everyone’s favorite “river horse” Fiona, who’s a favorite because she was born premature and needed help from humans to survive. I watched the zookeeper hand-feed Fiona and her mother pieces of lettuce and learned tidbits such as a hippo produces 22 pounds of dung daily. The zookeeper told a funny story about cage cleaners holding dung wheelbarrow contests. The “Home Safari” show streams live every weekday at 2:00 CDT.
Similarly, we’re able to visit aquariums virtually. I especially loved Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium’s video of their penguins’ field trip. After the aquarium closed to the public, they let the penguins out of their enclosure. Viewing adorable penguins wandering down the halls, staring at the fish in glass enclosures just as people would do, is endearing. It brought back a fond memory of a time when I connected with a beluga whale at the same aquarium. I’d watched this beluga circle its tank. On its third rotation, it lifted its tail and, with perfect timing, slapped it down. Spray washed over me. My hair and face dripped with aquarium water. I wiped my eyes in time to see the beluga staring at me and I swear, it smiled. I’m sure it had splashed me “for the sheer joy of it.”
Here’s hoping that during this stressful time you, too, will seek and find many moments of jo