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Columbus, OH 43206
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Quarantine. Isolation. Social distancing. The words defining our historic (and historically difficult) moment are all about solitude—and we’re bound to be using them for some time to come. But getting through these long days doesn’t mean we need to be inside. In fact, even under the “stay at home” orders currently in effect, getting out in the fresh air is still very much allowed. Spring goes on springing, and the time away from schools and the office gives us the opportunity to soak it in, observe, and enjoy the changes.
For those who have been disconnected from nature for a few years, or never connected in the first place, here’s a beginner’s guide to the plants and animals you may see around our Metro Parks, woods, and rivers this spring. We went with common species—because it feels good to be able to check things off your list—but think of this as a starting point for paying a little more attention to the natural world around you.
And if you are one of the many people who is suddenly leading a homeschool, you can use this as an educational scavenger hunt. My “class” will be taking this list up to Highbanks on the first warm April afternoon.
My mom used to point out the “first robin of spring” as March turned to April every year—a sign that the season was changing and more birds would soon be joining their song in the trees.
Look up! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… actually a bird. Our flat lands and wide skies are an ideal combination to catch a hawk carefully circling in the sky. (Because this is an easy scavenger hunt, any bird of prey can check this box. We won’t tell).
The Ohio Division of Wildlife calls warblers, “one of the avian highlights of spring.” While there are several species that visit our state, the blue-winged, golden winged, and yellow all have bright yellow coloring that perhaps makes them easier to spot in the trees. ODW recommends Greenlawn Cemetery as a local spot to see them.
They’re everywhere in Ohio, but there’s still something magical about spotting one in the wild and looking into its tranquil eyes.
Yes, there are many different types of butterflies that live in Central Ohio and yes, they are most active later in the year, but the common painted lady starts fluttering around as early as April. If you find a butterfly of any species this early in the season, we’ll give you full credit.
Head down to the water and open your ears for that familiar croak. You’re likely to spot them chillin’ on the bank or the nearest lily pad, but it’s really fun if you get to watch them swim.
It’s spring, the season many species welcome their babies into the world. And if there’s anything cuter than an animal, it’s a baby animal. Ducklings, bunnies, birds nests; anywhere you can spot an animal family will let you tick this box.
One of the first signs that the earth is returning from winter is the emergence of fiddlehead ferns. Their distinctive spiral sticking up from the ground portends more plants to follow. (They are also supposed to be delicious when cooked, but since this is a scavenger hunt occurring in a public park, please leave them for the next visitor).
You’ll probably smell them before you see them. There’s a reason lilac is dried and used in aeromatics year round, but—lucky us—we’re quickly approaching the season to experience the real thing. Those small, purple buds that smell like absolute bliss? That’s lilac.
Sure, it’s at its peak in the fall when the leaves turn gold and red, but can you identify a maple before it’s leaves are in full bloom and it’s not producing any syrup? Now’s your chance to find out.
Mushrooms count, but the best fungus in my opinion grows on old tree stumps and boasts beautiful stripes.
Feature photo by Rebecca Tien.
The people of Columbus are always finding ways to up their game when it comes to giving back. We’re a city that’s continually building a virtuous cycle: a non-profit with a new idea solves a problem; a business builds the concept of social responsibility into its mission; a neighborhood bands together to accomplish a task—and then others are inspired by these efforts. The question here, to paraphrase JFK, is not what Columbus can do for you, but what you can do for Columbus.
On second thought, maybe those aren’t the right questions. A city, afterall, is nothing but buildings without the people who live there. The question, then, is what can we do for each other? And during times like this, we’re finding out.
Following Fred Rogers’ advice to “look for the helpers,” we’ve been keeping our eyes out over the past weeks to see how the community is adapting. It turns out that even when we’re required by law to socially distance ourselves, the community is still there—maybe standing six feet away—but never far enough to forget what it means to be part of something larger. Here are just a few of the many awesome resources and examples of doing good that caught our eye. Remember, though, things are changing rapidly, so please reach out and confirm efforts are still underway before showing up to help!
One of the greatest concerns that came when Gov. DeWine closed schools was for the kids across the state who rely on daily free breakfast and lunch, including the 50,000 students in Columbus City Schools. Luckily, the school district continues to provide free breakfast and lunch to any child under the age of 18 who needs it—even those not enrolled in CCS—at 15 “grab and go” sites across the city. The Mid Ohio Foodbank and the Parks and Recreation department even teamed up with the schools one morning to offer free, pre-bagged produce at a Grab and Go site in addition to the meal. A list of the Grab and Go sites is available at ccsoh.us/Page/7560.
Kids, of course, aren’t the only ones who need to eat. The Clintonville Beechwold Community Resources Center has partnered with the Clinton Heights Lutheran Church for a sack lunch drive offering food to all ages. The CRC has also assembled and distributed “necessity boxes” for older adults in Central Ohio. The CRC plans to keep giving, and is requesting monetary donations to support its work at this time. Visit clintonvillecrc.org/updated-crc-services-for-covid19 to learn more.
COhatch has proven to be more than just a coworking space during this crisis. It partnered with Vaso and the Point App to make and deliver meals to those in need across the city. Reach out for help if you are in need of food or supplies to [email protected]; or contact [email protected] to support their efforts.
Make-A-Day is seeking funding to send food trucks to low-income areas of Columbus in order to feed the homeless, children home from school, and other residents. Support their mission with a donation at makeaday.fun.
A key ingredient in the hand sanitizer that you can’t find anywhere on shelves these days is good ol’ ethyl alcohol. Luckily, some local businesses including Middle West Spirits and Watershed Distillery have an abundance. They are making hand sanitizer to provide first responders, hospitals, and homeless shelters. The Columbus Foundation purchased the first $50,000 worth of product from Middle West, according to a report from The Dispatch.
Meanwhile, Bespoke Salon Studio is collecting PPE to donate to area hospitals while the salon is closed. Send them a message on instagram at @bespoke_salon_studio_columbus to donate.
The Roosevelt Coffeehouse is collecting donations of coffee for first responders, because, let’s face it, they’re going to need it in the coming weeks. The community can help in two ways: by purchasing $9 healthcare worker bags that the shop will give to first responders, or buy a bag of any coffee for yourself and they’ll donate another bag to a healthcare professional. You can also leave notes of encouragement on the bag. Grab your joe and help a hero at 300 E Long St.
While these numbers are subject to fluctuate and grow throughout the upcoming days and weeks, Ohio.gov has released its current numbers on COVID-19 and its impacts.
Currently, as of March 31, 2020, here are the reports:
The median age of these cases was reported at 53 with a sex split at 49% males and 51% females with a less than 1% not reporting their sex. The age range, however, goes from one year olds to 99-years-old.
614Now will update this story with more information as it becomes available.
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