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Country Living during COVID-19

By: Rae Gould, Associate Director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative

Leverett, Mass.

Rather than thinking of time at my home in Western Massachusetts as “isolation,” I am working to remain focused on opportunities for reflection, growth and rejuvenation. Although some days are more challenging than others, rediscovering my love of cooking through healthy, home-cooked meals and culinary explorations, combined with rediscovering the great outdoors, have been welcome reprieves from the daily news and associated stresses.

One example is a recent first-time exploration of Catamount State Forest, located in Colrain, Massachusetts. This remote forest near the Vermont border has an even more remote pond in the center, accessible only by foot. Time away from my computer and the confines of my home was a welcome break on the cool spring day I explored this area. Although I have lived in Western Massachusetts for two and half years, I’m finding that the COVID-19 experience provides a new reason to explore this beautiful area of the state and plan to take advantage of socially-distanced activities like walks and hikes in remote areas as warmer temperatures arrive this spring. Another beautiful part of nature in this area, black bears, is perhaps the only other consideration to enjoying the outdoors these days, besides social distancing, of course. I hear from my neighbors that the bears are awake now, although I have not had the pleasure of a visit on my property yet this year.

I think of my colleagues and friends from Brown University daily and remain connected a number of ways: regular meetings with staff and faculty, helpful webinars offered by Wellness at Brown and Talent Development, and continuing to plan projects for when the campus returns to normal. In the meantime, I’ll work to stay healthy and balanced through reconnecting with the beautiful area I’ve chosen to call home, and I’ll keep reminding myself that country living during COVID-19 is a blessing during these trying times.

Image credit: Photos of McLeod Pond, Catamount State Forest, Colrain, Mass. (by the author)