Nor, to a great extent, is the outdoors. As the menu of possible activities narrows exponentially—for New York this means no bars, restaurants, gatherings, and nearly all arts/cultural activities—the outdoors is still open for business. It’s one of the few places where social distancing is not only possible, it’s kind of built-in.
Outside of big summer festivals and always-crowded tourist hot spots like Niagara Falls, parks, preserves, and other public green spaces are usually sparsely populated. There are nature preserves in Western New York where I know I will not see one other person, except maybe a caretaker, on any given day, especially now, in the offseason. In fact, there are no staff on duty at most places, though trails remain open. New York State parks also remain open; there’s just no programming and visitors’ center are shuttered.
In our local Facebook gardeners’ group, members, not satisfied with seed-starting, are champing at the bit to get outside and plant. Um, no, it’s really not time yet, with overnight hard freezes still common, but it will be in a couple weeks. At that time, we gardeners can channel our needs to get out and do something. In the meantime, what a great time to make plans, nurture seeds, and take a few quiet walks. Along the wooded trails of a local preserve, I can watch and listen to the birds—migrators are beginning to return—enjoy the different tree forms, and imagine a world before us.
In a world that is beginning to resemble an apocalyptic science fiction film, this brings solace.