Talk to a friend if you’re feeling depressed, they say. Eat well, get enough sleep. Take a walk in nature.
The closest I get to nature these days is in a nearby office park with some nice landscaping. I walk early in the morning, when the parking lot is empty. It’s mercifully quiet—once I get past the busy road that I cross to get there. Beyond the neatly trimmed bushes though, the only nature I usually see is a decoy mallard duck in the retention pond, and occasionally, slugs.
Sometimes I’ll see live ducks. It’s encouraging to see them managing to feed in the murky drainage ditch between the office park and the neighboring strip mall. It makes me happy to see something seemingly healthy swimming around. It’s like a sign of hope. Maybe ducks are Florida’s doves.
The slugs, however, speak more to my feelings these days. I’m trying to be positive, trying to love this new neighborhood to which I’ve moved. The loss of a good friend and a string of expensive car repairs has made it hard for me to get excited about my new home, but I think that’s logical. These feelings could pass.
Talk to a friend, they say. Eat well, get some exercise. Spend some time in nature.
In Florida, you don’t actually have to leave your home to be near nature. Lizards, spiders, and other bugs will crawl into your home, maybe ride in on your pant leg.
As the summer progresses, I’m discovering more nature on my walks. So far I’ve come across an occasional crane trying to get away, a possum, a dead baby snake, a dead mouse, a cicada carcass, and something that I believe was a dead stag beetle.
I’m not so sure that all this nature is helping my depression.
When I tell people that I moved to Florida, they think I’m lying on a beach somewhere. They don’t know, or don’t think about, the overwhelming amount of traffic, construction, and strip malls here.
To be fair, Florida has some beautiful lush, scenery and spaces. If you’re lucky, you could have a nice view just outside your home, so you can enjoy it from the safety of your air conditioning.
Outside, though, nature is a lot of poop, rotting wood, and dead things.
Maybe beauty and rot balance out. Maybe being near both helps to keep me grounded. Maybe I’m rationalizing, but I keep trying to see things in a positive light.
I’ve heard that there are peacocks in my area, too. I’ve always found peacocks to be beautiful, although I only know them from posters and post cards. The Peacock is a symbol of my city, even though they’re not native to the area. I’m thinking that they’re more a symbol of wealth, privilege, and disregard for a balanced ecosystem. I’ve been told that they shriek like lunatics. Maybe they know that they’re far from home. Why did someone feel a need to bring them here? Don’t we have enough ducks, cranes, dead snakes, and bugs to keep us busy? What about adopting a cat or dog? The shelters are overwhelmed!
Pets reduce stress, they say. Studies show that having a pet can help with depression. (Unless you have a shrieking peacock as a pet, I guess.)
A few months ago, at the tail end of the Year of The Dog, my guy and I adopted a cat. We love him, and he seems healthy and happy, despite his frequent mewing, some of which makes him sound incredibly sad. He was ten months old when we got him; I don’t know where, or how, he lived before that. Maybe he was an outdoor cat and misses taking walks in nature.
I wonder if sometimes he really is sad. Maybe, like the peacocks, he feels like he’s far from home. If that’s true, I hope that sometime soon he comes to feel like our place is his home.
I hope the same thing for myself.