Where to begin? As I sit here trying to find words to start this note, I’m being distracted by the sounds of spring, the rhetoric of the news, and the uncertainty of the COVID-19 chaos. As leaders around the country and the world grapple with their headlines, I find myself trying to compose mine. Yesterday, we made decisions to cancel and postpone events here in the Garden. We are following the guidelines put forth by our Governor and the City as a way to limit transmissions. Our staff and volunteers are our primary support for these events and are predominantly in the high-risk category for this current pandemic.
While we have suspended events, we are also mindful of the importance of finding refuge and calm in a natural setting. Limiting activities curtails the crowd issues, making room for those who are well and need respite. The Garden will be open regular hours, Friday through Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm.
Like many small entities, decisions like this have serious downsides. For us, our dependency on events like the Leprechaun Hunt translates into the loss of donations and potential plant sales, income we need to support the Garden and staff. Over 1,100 visitors came last year on one weekend alone. While this number supports our decision to cancel, you can also see the potential loss it represents.
These matters make writing this letter difficult. I want to focus on the fact that numerous parts of the garden are bursting at the seams, ready to bloom and leaf out with exuberance. I want to profess my joy at the thousands of Erythronium revolutum that are pushing their delicate flower buds up, one of my favorite heralds of the coming spring. Where my silence is palpable, the birds are unimpeded and are singing out with nothing short of joy at the change in season.
I’ll end this message here. We need no further reminder that all things happen in their time. We are going through a moment. Where we feel like we are stifled by fear and an overt sense of caution, the natural world is there to remind us that we are alive and that we are resilient. We will get through this together. Let’s take care of each other and, for goodness sake, wash your hands.
Joseph Abken, Executive Director