Through our lens: Wondering what’s next

  • Jeff Lacy, left, of Shutesbury and Leverett Village Co-op board member Martin Pittman congratulate each other after a marathon effort moving a display freezer from the former Atkins Farms satellite store in North Amherst to its new home at the cooperative last Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Brother Towbee Keyes makes his way down from the dome of the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett last Wednesday. Keyes explained they are starting the work to repaint the dome, which last happened about 10 years ago. The grounds and gardens are open, but the temple used for prayer is closed to the public due to COVID-19. Sister Clare Karter explained, “We look forward to when we can open again, and everyone can come back, but for now we felt the limits were much wiser.” STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Fred Gohr, co-owner of Fitzwilly’s on Main Street in Northampton, watches as the storm passes through Tuesday from a window of the closed restaurant. He said he wishes the restaurant was open. “I have my fingers crossed,” Gohr said, hoping the tents wouldn’t be blown away in the high winds. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • James Brown walks up to a group on the lawn at Tasty Top in Easthampton on Monday. The group used to meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Burger King but have moved outside since COVID. They are unsure what will happen when the weather gets cold. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A woman gets into a car during rainy weather on Main Street in downtown Northampton on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sue Allen and Arlene Duelfer put together a vase of flowers at the foot of the Sojourner Truth statue in Florence, something they and others have been doing in response to the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Silas Danson-Holman, 9, scurries up a ladder Friday to get to a high ropes course at Morse Hill Outdoor Education Center in Shutesbury. The summer camp is held outside with masks and social distancing.   STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Josephine Becker and Olive Paradis “fence” on a portion of the ropes course at Morse Hill Outdoor Education Center in Shutesbury. Originally, the campers passed each other on the log, but because of social distancing rules, the rules have been changed. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Photo Editor
Published: 8/6/2020 11:54:43 AM

When COVID-19 first appeared in our area, along with it came the feeling of constant uncertainty. Who has it? Do I? How do I keep myself and those around me safe? Do I go to work? Do I stay at home? What is responsible behavior? What is not?

As the case count in the state dropped and businesses slowly started to open up, there was a brief moment of maybe, just maybe, this will be over soon. But as summer shifts to fall, the numbers are rising, and once again the uncertainty feels thick, like a humid day in August. Will things shut down again? What will winter isolation bring? And as so many are wondering: What will school look like?

I recently went to Morse Hill Outdoor Education Center, which runs a summer camp on 85 acres of land in Shutesbury. Usually, the campers travel, camp and canoe off site as well as use the ropes course and activities on site. This year, though, they are staying put, no overnights; everyone wears a mask; surfaces are constantly cleaned; and activities are enjoyed in a socially distanced group. As I walked around the camp with Victoria Shaw, the director, she talked about how they are going to open up an outdoor elementary school in the fall. It will focus on hands-on learning with an emphasis on restorative justice. Shaw had long thought about this concept, and now just seemed like the right time to go for it, she said.

At the New England Peace Pagoda, Sister Clare Karter talked about the fear her community had about keeping the temple and prayer center open to outsiders. The pagoda grounds and gardens are open, but the temple is closed. “People here are very concerned,” she said. “We look forward to when we can open again, and everyone can come back, but for now we felt the limits were much wiser.”

In Easthampton, I drove by a group of friends who’ve met three days a week for years at Burger King. They each sit in the same place every time they meet, and some even have names on their chairs. Because of COVID, they moved over to the lawn at Tasty Top next door so that they can be outside. The hope that COVID will be over when the weather gets cold is gone, and they are not sure where they will meet then. “Who knows where we will go?” Jack Greaves wondered aloud. “But, for now, this is something to look forward to.”




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