It has not been the summer I planned.
But that doesn’t mean it’s been a bad summer.
As I type this, a fall chill is in the air. I’m tempted to put on a sweater. I can hear music blaring at the Lincoln Park pool down the street, but I doubt there are many swimmers or sunbathers. It might not have been a typical summer, but I can still sense the season slipping away as temperatures dip and days get shorter.
The pandemic upended my expectations for what this year was going to be like.
I was looking forward to taking more trips with my son, now two. I was hoping to catch up with old friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. I was anticipating getting out more — doing more things, going more places.
I’m not one for looking at a crisis and finding the silver lining, and our current reality leaves much to be desired.
Too many people are still dying from a disease that has no cure, the economy is in shambles, mental health problems are on the rise and millions of children will begin the school year at home because their schools aren’t reopening.
The bad news has been constant, but summer has helped make it easier to bear.
Rather than dwell on all the things I couldn’t do, I focused on what I could do — on simpler, smaller pleasures closer to home. I sometimes found myself sulking over canceled plans, but those moments were rare.
On the whole, there was plenty to be thankful for.
— Beaches and pools — It might be difficult to remember, but there was never any guarantee that beaches and pools would be open this summer, and in some cities, like Schenectady, they didn’t. Where I live, in Albany, the pools did open — and it was a great thing.
Being able to swim and cool off on a hot summer day makes life so much better, and that’s especially true when options for fun are limited, as they were this summer. The beaches and pools I visited all had sensible social distancing guidelines in place, and I was generally impressed with how easy it was to relax and just enjoy life.
— Walks in the woods — As I’ve written before, the Capital Region has a lot of great parks and preserves, and I’ve spent a great deal of the pandemic exploring them with my son.
We have our favorite spots, but we’re always looking for new places to go and one of our best discoveries has been the Lisha Kill Natural Area, a beautiful preserve in Niskayuna. An old-growth forest with roughly two miles of trails, this quiet gem is a good place for getting away from it all and reminding yourself of all that’s good in the world.
— Small, outdoor get-togethers — In the early days of the pandemic, we did very little socializing.
When it got warmer, we embraced the opportunity to meet up with friends outside, in yards or at parks. COVID-19 spreads far more easily inside than out, and summer has made it possible to visit safely with friends in-person — perhaps the one thing I’ve missed most as pandemic has dragged on.
If I’m feeling grateful for summer, it’s because fall is likely to be a more challenging time.
Colder weather will push people back indoors, making it harder to socialize with friends and family. Seasonal attractions — farmers markets, outdoor yoga — will shut down for the winter. Safe, fun diversions will be harder to find, and people will start feeling more isolated.
I’m not going to worry about any of that right now, though.
I’m going to enjoy the warmer weather while it lasts — and embrace all that summer still has to offer.
Reach Sara Foss at [email protected] Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s.