A small brook cuts through the South Ridge Wood. [Credit: Photography by Russ]
[BRUNSWICK, N.J.] — On a cool September afternoon in South Ridge Wood, it’s pretty quiet. People are walking along the trail with masks. Nobody is speaking to one another or walking close due to social distancing. Everyone is enjoying the alluring lake and trees that have begun to change color.
Stop, look down and see dazzling red and orange leaves, some leaves are big. Some are small, and some are broken. The green grass is as soft as velvet. Continue to walk the trail and see children, usually in school, at 1:00 PM instead of playing cricket.
Due to the pandemic, no one is in school right now. The park’s backyard is now a gym class for neighborhood children. Listen closely and hear the children laughing, but the masks cover their smiles. Watch the child adjust their mask to breathe for a second. The children all gather around laughing and running as they play in the green grass.
Continue the trail and see two young bearded men enjoying a game of badminton. Men with masks on their faces and gloves on their hands as they play and drink beer. Hear the loud stream of water as the lake begins to get closer. In front of the forest is a captivating big lake with a dam. Look at the small turtles on the log, and start to walk closer to get a better view, they jump into the big lucid lake. A fluffy brown beaver building a dam. As the beaver makes eye contact with humans, it swims away with a stick in his mouth. Look down at the glimmering lake and see the little fish swimming. Life is still in the water, and they don’t have to social distance like humans or wear masks. They are fascinating creatures just enjoying a peaceful fall day on the lake.
As the trail starts to end and the lake disappears, walk across the red bridge overlooking the lake that was once closer. One of the animals that scattered from humans comes back. One turtle sits on a log while his friend is still hiding in the water. No social distancing, no mask just reminding everyone what life once was. Life is marvelous, and these creatures are enjoying every minute of not having to worry about COVID-19.