Novelty in Familiar Spaces

by Helen Weierbach

View from my new ‘home office’

The onset of coronavirus has given many of us time to slow down and focus on new hobbies or things that we may normally not think twice about. Many places and spaces we have only briefly passed or inhabited have now become our home bases in the quarantine. My bedroom, formerly a space I hardly spent more than my sleeping hours in, has now become a space where I spend much of my day. While it can be difficult to be confined, there is also a unique opportunity to re-discover what lies in these familiar spaces.

After rearranging my furniture, opening up my blinds and really looking at the world that lays just outside my windows, I’ve discovered many new beauties in the familiar space. The many hours I spend at my desk doing online class, remote work and research have been accompanied with discovering the many trees, birds and wildlife that are just outside my window. From the elephant ear plant laying at the foot of a neighbor’s shed, with ivy creeping up its siding to the blue jay that seems to return to the same tree in the morning, these small observations can bring excitement to an otherwise monotonous day of studying.

This sense of re-discovery has also accompanied my on my social distance runs and adventures through the city and around Audubon park. While a few months ago, neither my roommates nor I were very inclined to take an hour out of the day to explore the city by foot, we have taken to this exploration almost every day. The streetcar tracks just blocks away from our house bring a new discovery and beauty each time we pass. The park offers new vivid colors, wildlife, and discovery with each visit. 

When many of us are challenged with the monotony of living in quarantine, spending much of our time in the same spaces and with the same people, I urge us all to find something novel in the familiar.

About the author

Year in School: Senior
Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Arlington, Virginia
Favorite Outdoor Activity: Backpacking
Favorite Camp Food: Tofu Pad Thai
Ideal Outdoor Adventure Trip Destination: Glacial Lake Kayaking in Iceland
If you were stranded on a desert island, what/who would you bring with you: A frisbee, a friend, and a pair of tap shoes