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Radio Diary: In Troubled Times, Finding Peace In A Simple Routine

Fresh Pond Reservoir in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo via Shutterstock)
Fresh Pond Reservoir in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Most mornings, Dave Pettee leaves his house early and sets out in search of the sounds of hope and tranquility.

Pettee, a Unitarian Universalist minister living in Cambridge, finds them on his daily walks around Fresh Pond Reservoir, courtesy of the birds.

Pettee is being treated for cancer, and part of his therapy is going on these regular morning walks around the pond. Accompanied by the chirping and cooing of the local avian life, he’s never really alone. By this point, he’s able to identify many of them by their calls.

“Trying to find some sense of hopefulness during these times has certainly been important for me, as I deal with the ravages of chemotherapy,” Pettee says, pointing out a gray catbird along the walking path. “I’m feeling pretty lousy, so it’s important I find ways to kind of interrupt that.”

“There’s something about being out here on a Monday morning where it’s quiet, and having watched the birds change as the season has unfolded, [that] kind of gives me a daily sense of hope,” he says, spotting an oriole. “Reminds me that humans have dealt with epidemics and pandemics before, and we’ll figure this out. Somehow, some way.”

Pettee says he’s holding up alright, and getting out to walk often.


Correction: This story was updated to reflect a misspelling of Dave Pettee’s name.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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