What a Long, Strange Year It’s Been

I’ve been thinking back to how naïve we all were a year ago. I was pretty irritated because I had to cancel a trip for my 65th birthday, and then another trip with my longtime girl gang. I can remember thinking that at least things would be better by the end of April so we could go to my beloved Liberty Antiques Festival. But then that was cancelled, and so it was the thought of going to the Hillsville, Virginia Flea Market and the Liberty show in September that got me through the summer. But then those were cancelled, along with a clothing history symposium I was planning on in October.

In a way, it seems like the longest year ever, but at the same time, it’s almost as if the year didn’t happen. Being retired I was spared the whole work from home thing, but at this stage of my life my main pleasure is getting out in the world, visiting museums and historic sites, and just learning. For most of the past year that was just not going to happen. And even when things began to open up, the world just did not feel like a safe place.

I’m fortunate to live in the Southern Appalachians with National Parks and National Forests. I hiked a lesser known trail in the Great Smokies (not Clingman’s Dome; the parking lot was always full, which means the trail was too crowded) and I visited waterfalls and swam in the cold mountain streams. I slid down Sliding Rock, overcoming a childhood fear of the deep pool at the bottom. I visited local historic sites. And I spent many glorious summer afternoons in my own backyard, enjoying a cold beer, or two.

But still, I have really missed the feeling of freedom to come and go about the world. I feel, and I’ve heard other older people say the same, that I’ve lost a year of my life. Yes, I have gotten things done and have tried new activities. I’ve read – a lot. And I’ve taken advantage of places that allow for distancing.

I’ve often wondered how I’d would react if faced with a real emergency. Well, now I know. I’ve listened to the advice of trained professionals. Mask wearing is now second nature. I’ve had both doses of the covid vaccine. I’ve stayed home for the better part of the year, and I at least have the satisfaction of knowing I have done all I can to stop the spread of this horrible disease.

Even as spring break is causing insanity across the country, there does seem to be light at the end of the corona virus tunnel. As people are looking forward to a more “normal” world, let’s not forget that we all need to be more respectful of others. If we haven’t learned anything from the past year, it’s that it takes all of us to overcome not just covid, but also the social ills that continue to plague us.

I want to go to the beach, but not this beach!

A camping trailer would solve so many of the problems associated with hotels, but it just looks like so much work.

But not as much work as this setup.

Staying in a cabin in the woods might seem heavenly to city dwellers, but this is too similar to my real life.


Filed under Camping and Hiking, North Carolina, Viewpoint, Vintage Photographs

24 responses to “What a Long, Strange Year It’s Been

  1. What a great piece! You said everything I’ve also felt. Being in my late 70s (yikes) this was a year in a time when time counts. Sometimes I wondered if I would even make it to the other side. Well, here we are, and I am as giddy as you about starting to “live” life. Despite some meaningful moments and a few actual accomplishments, this past year has been mostly just existing. To life!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Louisa A Shupe

    I so enjoy all your articles. Your mention of Sliding Rock sparked a memory from my childhood when I attended Rockbrook Camp for Girls in Brevard every summer in my pre-teen years. We always took a day trip to Sliding Rock, then afterwards a stop for ice cream at Dolly’s.
    Every summer I return to the Lake Glenville area for vacation. This July I hope to hike Joyce Kilmer National Forest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jacq staubs

    And IF more people were as well grounded / exercised the common sense / civilized adult patterns of behavior you have demonstrated and contributed to our world we would ( for all intense and purpose) be waving good bye to this restriction and disease. I have practiced the same routine and all i can add to this is -as a result-we are alive and well. Your posts/you are a treasure. BTW – I can identify with the mountain retreat – after growing up on a mountain as well. I would still love to move back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s such a shame that certain leaders did not use their influence to encourage their followers to follow the advice of their own medical advisors. It probably would not have shortened the epidemic, but it certainly would have saved lives.


  4. tripichick

    poor snowflake, dependent on trips and shops and chums to fill the endless hours between meals and tv shows. glad you mask. i doubt i’ll ever go out in public without one. humans are gross, germy, inconsiderate, scientifically illiterate beasts.

    I’ve lived a gratifyingly isolated life for the last two years, talking to no one but my partner. It’s satisfying not to have to care about the masses. Maybe we can create a more equitable society once more of the deadwood is pruned away.

    the goddess grows weary of growing trees so we can use toilet paper and amazon boxes once.


  5. Pam

    Thanks so much, Liz. Your posts always give so much pleasure and teach something new, and this one offers great encouragement.

    Pam in Virginia


  6. kathleenc12

    Thank you for this memoir of a remarkable year. I can handle quite a bit of isolation, but ached when I could not see our newborn grandson for months. I missed the vibrant community life in my neighbourhood, here in Montréal— exhibitions, performances, festivals— even the sweet school concerts. So much loss: of life; of jobs and businesses, especially the deeply local ones; of the friendships that thrive on person to person contact. Not just for me, for all of us, regardless of age.


  7. What have I missed in this strange year? Number one on the list–my daughter, who lives on the other side of the country. But number two is definitely museums. Last week I was able to see a small exhibit and almost wept with joy. I’ve discovered that the virtual world is really no substitute for seeing things in person.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Stephanie Hanson

    Perfect way to look at our world through the last year. Love your articles and your thoughtful view of our lives in common. Thank you!


  9. Lori

    Your blog and emails have been a lifeline this past year. I’ve never come get before but I just wanted to say thank you!!!


  10. Yes to all of this. You and I are very similar I think. While not retired, I am a homemaker/full-time blogger, and so I too have spent this last year at home, not going out when things opened up, not thinking it safe still, and like you “my main pleasure is getting out in the world, visiting museums and historic sites, and just learning.” which made this last year very, very difficult. I spent a lot of it crying because I couldn’t go out to do those very things.

    We just got our first dose the other week, and I am eager to get the second, knowing I’ll be safer than before and will feel better about doing SOME things.


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