NOTE: I wanted to include additional (better) photographs to this post, but the platform wasn’t accepting the format of some. It is a mystery to me. I tried editing them in different ways, accessing them in different ways….I gave up. Oh well. Hopefully you will get my intention.
We are six months into the pandemic. It simultaneously feels like it has been a lifetime and hard to believe that it has been that long. I was looking through photos on my phone and thinking about the journey.
The experience has been both isolating and connecting. I have spent long hours alone. I have also spent hours talking to friends and family.
It is filled with contradictions – an opportunity to commune with nature, but also to feel powerless in the face of nature’s mysteries.
For me it began with my last foray out to dinner with friends in Beacon, New York, on March 7th. We went to Dia that day and took in the abstract art and pondered its meaning (which I wrote about here).
The pandemic has continued through today, August 20th, when I took a car ride up the Northway and explored Round Lake, partly driving, partly walking. I was hoping to hike through the nature preserve there but didn’t find a trail. I did find a dock where you could put in a kayak. Unfortunately, I don’t have one. I did find lovely views, brightened by purple loosestrife.
I got back in my car and found a promising bike path. Next time I will have to hook up the carrier to the trunk and bring my bike. I also found a charming shop named Leah’s Cakery. How could I not stop in given that it was apparently named after my daughter? I was rewarded with wonderful iced coffee and a delicious blueberry muffin.
In these six months I have travelled around the Capital Region visiting previously unseen nature preserves and found many lovely spots, but I have also gone only as far as my backyard for respite.
Some examples of enjoying our back yard:
Evidence of some of my hikes throughout the region:
I have observed the arc of the seasons: from the gray skies and barren trees of the end of winter to the deep azure and lush green of middle of summer.
I am probably tanner than I have ever been, though that isn’t saying much. The sun and I have a complicated relationship. I love it; it doesn’t love me. When I was young, the summer sun would cause a rash. Now with careful use of sunscreen with an spf over 30, I can handle the northern sun (a tropical sun is another story), mostly I freckle, at least I don’t burn. Each time I head out to walk, hike, jog or bike, I slather it on.
In that time, Gary planted a garden and reaped its harvest. He fought off critters that threatened to eat everything, but he won the war. He had a record-breaking tomato crop that we have been happy to share.
We had a lot of zucchini, too. I made it every which way, from bread to soup. Luckily Gary and I like both (and they go quite well together, too).
Fortunately, I had stopped coloring my hair long before the pandemic, but I didn’t get it cut until yesterday. It had gotten out of control – frizzy and wild. Over the six months, it has also gotten a good deal grayer, with silver sprinkled in, and white around my face. I don’t mind. I kind of like it, but each time I catch a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror I’m startled by what I see. Hmmm, is that me? After taking a beat, I nod and decide again that I’m good with it. It is a badge of honor – I’ve lived 60 years and it’s okay that people know that.
On some of my hikes I have been accompanied by Gary or a friend, but at least as often I am alone. I am not comfortable going too far afield by myself, but I will walk a well-traveled path. Mostly I go to the U of Albany campus and walk around the pond there. I watched a family of Canadian geese grow from furry goslings to almost full-size. I learned from my daughter-in-law that the black bird I photographed perched on a branch hovering over that pond is a cormorant. I have also learned that I like being able to put a name to a bird, tree or flower that I see.
For a number of months part of the ring road of the SUNY campus was closed off because they had set up COVID drive-thru testing. Just recently, they reorganized the test site and the full loop is open again. Now that it is late August, I look for signs of students. I have noticed more cars and more people using the tennis courts, but not much evidence of students. The gate to the basketball court is still chained shut. Tennis has been deemed safe to play, basketball is not. The judgments about what is safe and what isn’t keep evolving. Early on the tennis courts were off limits, too.
I am trying to make the best of the situation, trying to internalize that I am blessed. My husband and children are gainfully employed. My mother and in-laws have had health issues made more difficult to address because of COVID, but they have been managing; they have survived thus far. I even got to visit Mom once.
Despite the cooperation of the weather which has allowed us to get outside (though sometimes it has been beastly hot and humid), I feel sad. Hard to shake it, the melancholy that comes from knowing how many have died, how many have and continue to suffer and, while I have faith that a vaccine and treatment will be found, we don’t know how long this will go on.
I work at being positive, each day, finding humor, breathing deeply, looking at pictures of my kids and granddaughter, making my plan to vote and donating funds to candidates I support. But, truth be told, the sadness remains.