Editor’s Note: Distraction from the pandemic

As we approach the six-month mark of a pandemic no one thought would take us this long to outsmart, we’ve also been in search of new distractions.
person kayaking On Lake Wingra
Photo by Andrea Behling
Editor Andrea Behling kayaking on Lake Wingra

I miss the farmers’ market on Capitol Square. And going to baseball games. And concerts at Breese Stevens Field. And sitting inside a bar sipping an Old-Fashioned while waiting for a table on a Friday night. And group workout classes.

Just kidding on that last one — I’ll never miss those.

But really, this summer we’ve gone without so many things that usually define our short but sweet season of sun. It’s been downright odd to see a Madison summer go by without Taste of Madison, World’s Largest Brat Fest, a packed Mallards stadium or Art Fair on the Square, just to name a few.

It’s for a very good reason we’ve gone without mass gatherings, of course, but dispiriting nonetheless. In the September issue is an eerie shot of the “Wicked” set at the Overture Center of the Arts, where it’s sat since mid-March when our fast-paced world came to a grinding halt. The sight makes me yearn to see a performance again and experience the magic that can happen live on stage.

Some would say we were freed of distractions, which we were, in many ways. Without a game to watch, event to attend and the steady beat of life going on as usual, our eyes were opened to the cruel realities and inequalities so many face.

But as we approach the six-month mark of a pandemic no one thought would take us this long to outsmart, we’ve also been in search of new distractions —something to free our minds of worry, stress and grief. Enjoying nature has become such an instinctive escape. I’ve leaned into the calm and comfort that comes with floating on Lake Wingra in a kayak on a misty morning, or even just walking around my neighborhood or relaxing on my patio.

I invite you to seek out that same kind of contentment by reading through our cover story featuring less-traveled paths to explore (and tips for safe outings) in the area’s sprawling state parks and natural areas. For me, just looking at the images our photographers snapped for the story are enough to bring me to a serene state of mind.

Being out in nature forces you to use your senses. Feel the breeze. Listen to the wind. Take in the many intersecting scents of the natural world. An outdoor excursion reminds you what it feels like to be alive — and to be thankful for that.

You’re offered time to think. Disconnecting from technology and being grounded in the moment allows for uninterrupted stream of thought and reflection.

While I do hope to return to Wrigley Field’s bleachers someday to watch the Cubs win, and go to my favorite restaurants again, I’ve been thankful for this slow, contemplative summer. It’s reminded me that not all distractions are bad — some offer the headspace needed to appreciate the beautiful chaos that is the human experience.