We’ve been back three of weeks now, a weird few weeks. When we left the city as still firmly in lockdown, the streets were deserted, and we were getting groceries delivered and left outside our door. A lot of things changed while we were upstate: cases went down a lot, the state started reopening in certain areas, summer arrived and George Floyd was killed. I’ve already reflected a bit on that first week back with the protests, riots and curfew. My next post will be a chance to reflect more on what the city is like now we’re back but I’ll look back at our couple of weeks upstate here.
Having been somewhat forced into hermit life due to the virus it was a dramatic change of scenery and pace to find ourselves in a village of less than 400 people. We had no real neighbours save for an elderly couple and their labradoodle, Murray. We got to know the couple from a distance through Murray’s boisterous greeting each time we walked past.
Daniele and I were working as usual for most of the two weeks we were upstate. Despite that the scenic location and outdoor space allowed us to find areas to set up outside during the workday. Our laptops didn’t always take kindly to the heat as summer quickly approached, almost as if the seasons were afraid we might experience Spring. In the mornings or evenings, we built up a routine of doing a walk around the village. Although small we found a couple of different routes to other some variety.
Leaving the apartment since the pandemic started has added masks to the “phone, keys, wallet’ check. One of the advantages of the upstate living, that I hadn’t considered beforehand was how easy it was to social distance in the village – meaning no masks required. It’s strange to consider what is now considered a luxury.
The supermarket in the town over provided a gateway to return to some semblance of normalcy. The first time we went shopping there were perhaps only half a dozen other cars. For the first time entering a supermarket in over a month it was a very un-stressful experience.
The supermarket trips and daily walks provided some familiarity with ‘normal’ life. We were also able to replicate some of our vacation plans too. Namely hiking and breweries.
There are enough hiking trails in the Catskills to keep me busy for a long time so it wasn’t hard to find a few to suit both of us. We managed three different longer walks/hikes encompassing some stunning views. A go-to destination for us became the Ashokan Reservoir. A recently completed Rail Trail that we visited twice. On our penultimate day upstate we found a separate walkway on the other side of the reservoir. This made its way to the top of our list to explore more of if we go back. Hard to do justice to the views and the size of it all but it was beautiful.
Catskills brewery is one of my favourite breweries yet one of the hardest to find beers from in the city. The brewery is an hour from the upstate house so there was no chance of not making a visit. Much closer to Fleischmans is Woodstock Brewery, somewhere we visited in winter after my first attempt at skiing. We’d had a great time there then, playing Rummikub. This time there was no hanging about, although another couple had pitched camping chairs in the parking lot and were enjoying a beer. A much less known brewery but also excellent, and one I’m enjoying as write this blog.
To cap off Memorial Day weekend, and our vacation in a staycation, we fixed up a BBQ and bonfire. It’s nice to be back in our apartment, but those two weeks provided some much-needed respite and a reminder of normalcy. I’m still not sure how to exactly define ‘normalcy’ to be honest, and when the ‘new normal’ just becomes ‘normal’. NYC is set to enter ‘phase two’ on Monday and outdoor dining re-opens. Cuomo is stopping daily briefings and whatever this normal is it feels more relatable to the beginning of the year than a month ago.