Greenpoint: Staying close to home, but still plenty to explore

A nearby nature center, above, and exploring the woods right near home, below.
A nearby nature center, above, and exploring the woods right near home, below.

I’ve been home for 18 weeks now, no longer heading out to work five days a week, no longer making any casual trips, not going anywhere really. I might be unusual, but for me it’s been OK.

I like being home. I like my job, too, and my colleagues, and I’m fortunate that I’m able to continue to work from home and stay in touch with my coworkers, at least virtually. I’m happy to work from the kitchen counter or dining room table or the desk in my bedroom. I’m happy to spend my commuting time in the garden, and my break time with the goats and chickens.

Some people get anxious from not being out and about. Not me.

My stress is about other people, about the 140,000 people who have died in this country, about those with compromised immune systems who live in fear that their careless neighbors will infect them. I know several people who’ve had COVID-19 — some with mild symptoms, some sicker, some who’ve been hospitalized and some with long-term, lingering impacts. I know others who think it’s all a big hoax.

I don’t think it’s a hoax. And I think we’re going to be dealing with this for a while longer. Cases are on the uptick again right now as people tire of staying away from other people, and who knows what the winter will bring.

For now, we can try to keep one another safe and stay close to home whenever possible.

That might mean remembering what it is about your home, your town, your neighborhood that brought you there in the first place.

It’s nice for us that our college kid is home with us for now. And that our eldest managed to get home for a week, too. We took some time together, exploring what is nearby.

I’ve spent more time in the trails behind my house and across the street than I have in years, taking the smaller side trails and perimeter trails I had almost forgotten. My feet remembered every dip and turn.

We’re getting reacquainted with the neighborhood wildlife, getting to know our various deer, birds, toads, rabbits and garter snakes by sight.

We’re avoiding our favorite mountain hikes, which tend to be crowded, in favor of the less frequented, smaller nature centers this area is full of — all those side-of-the-road trails we’ve driven by for years.

The kids and I visited one little nature center we’d never been to, thinking that a mile-and-a-half walk was hardly worth the stop. But after a pleasant ramble in the woods we came upon a stream running over a flat slate bottom, with little waterfalls and about 100 frogs, sitting on rocks or jumping from the trail into the water as we approached. We took off our shoes and walked through the stream, talking to the frogs, admiring the wildflowers.

We were there for an hour and a half and saw only three people, entering the park as we were leaving.

Later in the week, we stopped at another nature trail we’d passed for years. Another nice ramble in the woods and this time the highlight was the black raspberry bushes. Again we saw only one other party — a couple of birdwatchers who’d just spotted a scarlet tanager.

We’ve been berry picking in the logged clearing in the woods around the corner, coming home with scratches and bee stings and quarts of raspberries. We rewarded ourselves with two berry pies and bowls of fresh berries — plain or dressed with our goat-milk yogurt — for breakfast.

There will be time later on for exploring places farther away. For now, it’s nice to reacquaint and reattach ourselves to the place we call home. Maybe even after the stress of the pandemic is over, we can keep that in mind.

Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on Aug. 2. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

Categories: Life and Arts

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