All it took was my sister casually mentioning that she’d hang with our kids if we wanted to get away for a weekend, and I got right online and booked a little getaway. Did zero research beyond seeing one comment on a thread on Hockessin Gossip Girls about a place called the Bavarian Inn near Harper’s Ferry, and I thought huh, sounds good, went online, booked it, and gave it not additional thought until about 24 hours before we left.
Typically when we travel, we enjoy exploring local flavor like music at a bar, a local restaurant, a museum or some other such activity that involves being indoors with strangers. Those events were pretty much off the table this time around, as we are appropriately COVID-conscious and committed to avoiding high risk activities like … bars, restaurants, and other indoor activities in close proximity with strangers. And so this is how it came to pass that I found myself paddling a one-woman kayak up the Potomac on what was perhaps the loveliest fall Saturday in 2020.
Sunshine, leaves falling on the river, and the sound of paddles moving through water and wind moving through trees.
I had forgotten, in the busy fall - how was fall so busy even though COVID had us feeling like we never had anything going on? - how much nature healed me in the early days of COVID. Summer nature healed me as well - but differently. The beach feels less like nature and more like a destination - walk to the corner, cross the road, find a spot, dash through the hot sand, set up the cooler and chairs and umbrella, apply the sunscreen, hand out snacks, watch the surfing, distribute lunch, reapply sunscreen, repeat as necessary. Go home when you get hungry for dinner, thirsty for cocktails, or tired from sunshine. I love it endlessly and I never tire of it, both in spite of and because of its predictability. In a topsy turvy crazy year, the beach felt reliable and true.
Fall and spring? That nature feels more like the destination is the journey itself: bike five miles in one direction, kayak five miles back, take it all in along the way. The fall and spring nature of paths and foliage and flora feels more like it’s supposed to fill you up so that nothing else can fit in the vessel - not stress, not to-do lists, not campaign materials or phonebanking or homework to review or emails to read. Just sunshine, and the reflection of light on water. This trip, like many things if you look a little more closely, was one of the silver linings of COVID.