Near my house there is a shopping center that is virtually empty due to pandemic pauses as well as busted business prior to the pandemic.
My family and I have stopped by multiple times this summer so my kids can ride their bikes around the sprawling parking lot with no car traffic.
While they’re biking, my wife and I will explore the seemingly lifeless grounds.
But we had two pleasant surprises of nature, and one of man:
- Pictured above is a yellow barrier marker that is used to delineate a curb, so snow plow drivers will know to go around the area. Never mind that it’s the middle of summer and the marker is useless. Or is it? Clinging to the pole I spotted a yellowish, winged insect, presumably trying to blend in while resting, or perhaps trying to lay claim to its own territory. Either way, it’s nice to see an unusual insect trying to adapt to land that was once its own.
- While walking by a storefront, I saw two birds flitting around, and I heard lots of exuberant cheeping echoing from under the store’s overhang. Upon further investigation, sure enough, a bird’s nest was perched precariously on a pipe and filled– jam-packed, even– with baby birds awaiting dinner from their parents. See my picture, below, taken without getting too close. I believe it is a nest of some type of swallows. When I approached, and later when my daughter joined me, the parent birds swooped closely over both of us, chirping loudly to try and pester us away from their youngins’. Looks like nature is indeed taking over the parking lot after all.
- Lastly, I found one man-made sign of life. While standing idly by a light pole, I noticed on the concrete base a small square sticker the size of a postage stamp with a QR code. Bored and curious, I thought it might link to a website for the light pole company. Turns out, somebody placed the sticker there to connect with a geolocation app called Munzee, which I subsequently downloaded on my phone. Now, when we go to the barren shopping center (or other locales around town) I have an excuse to stroll around and try to locate these stickers on various poles, signs, and other objects and snap them with my phone app. Nice to see humans connecting with each other, even if electronically, during this socially-distant era.
As the song Big Yellow Taxi goes, “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
Well, that parking lot is slowly being reclaimed by paradise, I should hope.