The Spring That Wasn’t: Coronavirus and Experiencing Nature in Isolation

A fleeting glimpse of a passing spring left an indelible mark in memory and human experience: snippets of a fragmented diary about life in self-isolation in Virginia.

Abdullah Ayasun
8 min readJun 30, 2020


A picture from the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

Fleeting Glimpse of a Passing Spring

As flowers enveloped trees amid the earlier-than-expected arrival of spring, there is something missing in the air. The inspiring beauty of the landscape does not inspire any joy or exaltation. There is a brutal irony between the all-conquering allure of spring and the frightened human being who locked himself/herself to the walls of his/her residence.

Normally, these are the times to celebrate. But these days, the fear of an unseen enemy — a deadly virus — overwhelms the joy of the spring. The contrast has never been sharper. The promise of the sunlight and the fear of the dark clouds of virus appear to be in a perpetual clash in our mental map. We are prisoners in our own house. A fleeting glimpse of a passing spring fails to capture its soul and essence. For this reason, it would be safe to state that this year “the spring that never was…”

I wrote those impromptu lines above no more than a week after I confined myself into self-isolation at a relatively beautiful townhouse in Fairfax, Virginia, back in early March. I remember the day very well. It was March 10 when I, earlier than before the state lockdown, made up my mind after being overwhelmed by the horror tales of a globe-trotting virus and its lethal, contagious power. During this time (if the concept of time means anything), I suspended my freelance work outside. Since my school and other work moved online, there was only one thing to do: self-study, remote work and idling. It was not like the famous phrase attributed to the Roman Emperor Nero: fiddling while Rome burns. Mine was like a prisoner’s tale. Someone who was stuck at home against his own will. The forces of nature were unstoppable and beyond my control after all.

A week later, I scribbled down the note below:

Some occasional messages. And the rest is long…



Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun