Summer has not been canceled

Get out of the house, explore, experience something new

Summer is upon us and I can’t wait to get out there to visit some of my favorite places in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont (and add a few new ones to that list).

Yes, some of you may be saying, “wait a minute, so much isn’t happening this summer …” And that is true, a lot has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there’s still so much that is happening. So, I’ll take this opportunity to remind you that this is your chance to get out there and explore, to experience something new.

Of course, this summer’s activities and visits to cultural venues are going to be very different and require some more thoughtful planning than in summers past. Impromptu day trips aren’t yet part of the “new normal” of our post-pandemic phased reopening plans. Venues that we could normally visit on a whim, now have reserved/timed-ticketing systems, limits on the number of patrons allowed, physical distancing rules, and of course, face-covering requirements.

Planning ahead does put a damper on the spontaneity of summer fun, but I’ve realized this “new normal” forced upon on us by COVID-19 has a few advantages:

We’ve slowed down.

The new rules of operation for businesses, cultural organizations and restaurants, are allowing us to slow down and become more observant of the world around us.

The next time you visit a museum, be prepared to take it slow and really experience the exhibitions. Limitations on the number of patrons will give you more room to explore and more time with each piece. And many museums will still open new shows this season, albeit, they may not be the ones originally intended for this summer. To find out what shows are opening this season, check out our Summer Previews calendar.

We’ve rediscovered outdoor recreation.

With the closure of non-essential businesses in March, the majority of us found ourselves home (or working from home) with more time on our hands and fewer available activities. More people are participating in outdoor activities than prior to the pandemic stay-at-home orders: walking, running, biking, fishing, hiking, kayaking and birding. If you’re looking for a new activity to try or just a new location to try out, check our feature, Ready, Set, Get Outside! for a few suggestions.

If the golf course is your chosen form of outdoor recreation, we have you covered, too. Our annual UpCountry Golf Guide is available here. With it, you’ll find a special spotlight highlighting a few of the region’s women golfers.

We’re exploring new places.

If you’ve never visited one of our many historic properties, now is the time to take advantage of timed-ticketing and limited crowds. Depending on what phase of reopening you’re in, you may not be able to visit inside the historic houses just yet or be limited to self-guided tours. But don’t let that stop you from making a visit. The majority of these spaces, if not all, have gardens to explore and trails to hike.

We’re exploring familiar places in new ways.

It’s true, there will be no competitive picnicking on the lawn of Tanglewood this summer, but you can still visit the grounds. For a select few weeks, you can register for a time to visit the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home to walk the grounds or just sit for a spell.

Tanglewood is just one of our many beloved cultural organizations, festivals and events that had to cancel their seasons this summer. But if the past few months have taught us anything, it’s how resourceful, resilient and creative their organizers can be. In 20-20 Hindsight, we pay tribute to 40 cultural institutions that aren’t with us this season and share the alternative ways they are connecting with the public this summer.

Yes, this summer season, and even the fall season, looks much different as we move forward in these uncertain times but that doesn’t mean we can’t safely enjoy what has reopened. Take time to educate yourself before you head out; don’t assume the rules and offerings at each place are the same as before. Please, be patient — this “new normal” is very fluid; rules and guidelines change quickly. And remember, we’re all in this together.

Jennifer Huberdeau, Editor

Vermont Country magazine

Vermont Country has a hyperlocal focus on the Green Mountain lifestyle, its personalities, events, attractions and culture. The magazine appears six times a year, designed to complement the state and four-season living. VtCo magazine is a Southern Vermont publication of Vermont News & Media.

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