Despite all the destruction caused by the coronavirus, there are signs of hope in the confirmed case numbers that show a recent decline and in the sights and sounds that surround us.  

When the stay-at-home order first went into effect, I distinctly remember how quiet my neighborhood became. The only vehicles I heard were the delivery trucks that passed by my house throughout the day. It wasn’t until manufacturing was able to resume that I noticed heavier traffic on the nearby roads, which felt reassuring.

I never thought I’d be happy to hear the steady hum of our landscapers again, but their lawn mowers were like music to my ears upon their return because they brought a sense of normalcy. Besides, the grass was starting to look as bad as my hair.

Now, as I walk the dog each day I see the efforts my neighbors have made to enhance their outdoor areas with assorted potted plants and hanging baskets as well as other garden décor that puts my mind at ease.

One neighbor has a knack for selecting various seasonal accents that she updates on a regular basis. These revisions currently serve as a reminder of the passing of time when parts of our lives are on hold. Her front porch has an upbeat party-ready feel with wicker chairs, colorful containers and other fun details.

Closer to our condo, the soothing sounds from the fountains in the pond signal the arrival of the warmer seasons along with the chirping birds that meet on our deck for brief conversations before taking off again.

Elegant herons swoop down for a short stay, while fluffy bunnies make an occasional appearance. As the trees on our property are covered with leaves again and other varieties start to bloom, I’ve been enjoying the beauty of nature.

Some additional outdoor enhancements to our home include new LED lights to line our front walkway and a border collie whirligig that can be seen from inside. When the wind works its magic, this garden accent has as many crazy moves as our real guy did when he was younger.

As more activity arrives in conjunction with the warmer weather and recently lifted restrictions, a variety of contractors and people and their pets have been occupying the outdoor spaces that were practically empty a few months back. Even though it feels surreal when neighbors wave to me from their cars and I catch a glimpse of a mask, it still feels like progress.

With our next-door-neighbor’s meditation garden in full bloom, this artistic arrangement has the power to soothe all who see it. As patio tables welcome their fellow umbrellas and chairs, these signs of life inspire me to remain hopeful and cautiously optimistic.

Just to be able to open our windows and doors for a cool breeze feels like a privilege after being confined for so long. Sometimes all it takes is some fresh air and sunshine to be able to look on the bright side again.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at

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