April 23, 2020

A Spring Isolation Walk by Joylene M Bailey


Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash


I step out my front door and marvel at the matted brown grass on my lawn. Just a few days ago, there was two feet of snow here. It’s a puzzle. But it’s not a puzzle I need to figure out. I’m just glad spring has truly and definitely arrived in my neighbourhood.

The back alleys around here have been paved since last spring and, while I do love the natural look of two tracks through the grass and gravel, it’s a joy to travel this path without slogging through mud and dirty puddles. 

The breeze is just enough to lift my isolation-length hair off my collar, but not enough to hug my sweater around me. And the air is refreshing. Wait, is that eau de fresh-baked bread wafting by?


The joyful heart sees and reads the world 
with a sense of freedom 
and graciousness.
Despite all the difficult turns on the road, 
it never loses sight 
of the world 
as a gift.
John O'Donohue


There’s no traffic down these back alleys and, most surprising of all, it’s a great place to meet neighbours I’ve never met before. One man is out puttering near his garage. We exchange information on the state of our families. Everyone is healthy in my house. How about yours? Yes, yes, we are all well.

Farther on, a woman stands on her back step calling to her neighbour across the fence, “Hey Ward! How you doing? Ward! Hey, Ward!” Ward doesn’t hear her, he’s too busy hosing down his driveway. 

When she spies me, she says, “Isn’t it amazing? I can’t hear the traffic on the Henday. I don’t remember it being this quiet in the neighbourhood since we moved in.” 

I guess there are pleasant points to a pandemic. 


Add Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

There are at least five dog-walkers out on the main streets that cross the maze of back alleys I’m taking. They wave or nod or say a short hello. But they don’t stop to chat. I find myself wondering if that’s because of the current self-isolation in effect, or if it’s because I’m not walking a dog.

A couple of children whiz by on their bikes, single file. They give me a furtive glance. Obviously, they’ve been warned about the six-foot rule. I hear other children behind a fence, bantering back and forth in the high-pitched voices I usually hear drifting from the school playground. Two doors down, on a raised deck, an almost-grown girl giggles into her cell phone. 


Image by Lori Clouse from Pixabay

On the home stretch I stop behind our house. I soak up the sun-warmed surface of the fence as I peer over it into our sunroom, where hubby has set up his self-isolation home office. I wave wildly, trying to get his attention, but he is absorbed in a web-ex meeting with other grocery company executives, collectively finding their way through a corona-made obstacle course.

Not all the heroes are on the front line. 

Our windchimes bing-dong as though to say see you soon and I head towards the end of the alley. At the corner, a wren high in a towering poplar sings its tuneful song in reply to a similar song nearby. I try to find him in the tangle of limbs and branches, but I can’t. 


Look at the birds of the air;
 they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26 NIV

Half a block later I’m back at my front door. My home welcomes me like an old friend. We have been very close these last several weeks. She has sheltered me and provided me with all kinds of things to do, places to sit and work and be. Being is what we are still doing, despite isolation and six-foot rules. Being neighbourly, being active, being reflective. Carrying on. Life is different right now, but the world is still beautiful. God is still there. Still here.


Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay 


Joy enjoys her back-alley walks in Edmonton, Alberta, where she is self-isolating with The Cowboy and Babe. Most of her writing projects have been put on hold during this season as she creates community in isolation with her Tea-Time blog posts at Scraps of Joy.


  1. This is such a beautifully written piece, Joy. It reads like poetry, elevating the ordinary in a way that gives profound meaning to simple things. You should enter it in a contest or something...

  2. I love this post, Joy. I feel calm as I walk with you. I need that. The people, the things that matter, are mentioned well by you. Thank you. :)

  3. I so felt the wonder and awe in this post, Joy. I agree with Tracy, it reads like poetry. xox

  4. Joy, you have put into beautifully crafted words what all we isolationists are discovering; joy in the simple, joy in the quiet, joy in a brief human interaction. This pandemic is nasty but it has some sweet side effects not symptomatic of the disease, which I pray we remember to practice long after this is over. Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Thank you Joy. Your meditation on your walk gives me and everyone inspiration to take joy in the beautiful moments, regardless of our circumstances.


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