During New Zealand lockdown, we were allowed to go out for exercise, as long as we stayed local. Without the cars, everywhere became a silent space. Everyone was sharing their relishing of this silence when they stopped to chat with random strangers. Wistful sigh! It was a golden time of community.

It was also a golden time at Botanic Garden as it was autumn. Although part of the garden can be physically closed, it was decided to leave it open to provide solace and a change of scenery for the well-being of locals who could reach it as pedestrians. I’m local so was able to observe the changes in the way people used the place.

The atmosphere changed. People seemed to take a fresh delight. The vibe seemed somehow freer. People were more relaxed, just wandering and happily following their senses. Getting outside was the highlight of our day so for those lucky enough to make the garden part of their walk, there seemed to be a relishing of nature’s loveliness.

As society’s pace picks up again, hopefully this enhanced appreciation of nature and the peace, simplicity and slowness that was revealed during lockdown will become part of our future’s new normal.