New York has gone from being the most dangerous part of the country for COVID-19 to one of the better ones.  I give most of the credit to our governor Andrew Cuomo, and to my neighbors who are taking the precautions that we need to fight off the spread.  For the most part, people are avoiding unnecessary gatherings.

Unfortunately, the pandemic isn’t over.  Our local businesses have started to re-open, fearing that a longer delay will ruin their hopes of returning to profitability.  They’re not wrong.  Many stores and restaurants have closed for good.  My office just completed a large layoff.  We think and hope that they’re done cutting staff, but who really knows?  Meanwhile my job allows me to work from home and I give it the concentration that I’m able to.

Old bridge near “the Furnace”, Sterling Forest State Park

We shop for food and a few essentials, but mostly we spend very little.  The supermarkets have become less scary.  People wear masks, the store staff have worked out the traffic problems, no one is hoarding toilet paper any more.  Life is simple, and incredibly boring.

So far, we’ve visited friends … once.  Our son came to visit us … twice.  We do occasional restaurant take-out, and the even rarer outdoor dining.  Since I no longer commute to work, we have more time for cooking.  Dinner is the high point of the day.

View from Stahahe High Point (not dinner), Harriman State Park

We do still hike, but not in the more exotic distant locations I had planned for this year.  Now I pore over our local trail maps until I find trails (or more often, short sections) that we haven’t already done, and where we expect to encounter few other hikers.  As a result, we often go to places that lack a “wow” factor, or which take roundabout approaches to the payoff locations.  Even a so-so hike can be rewarding.  It’s exercise and it gets us out of the house.  Last week we picked a place so remote that we saw a bear, pretty unusual within an hour of New York City.

Not actually a bear

This isn’t how I wanted to spend my summer.  I have my health and a paycheck, so I’m better off than some, but this period in history will remain a giant downer even for those of us who were spared direct hits from the virus and its economic impact.

A tree I just liked

Sooner or later, we’re going to feel so much cabin fever that we’ll do something else. Meanwhile there are still some remote spots that feel safe. Safe is good, and occasionally beautiful.