I’m having one of those “the more things change, the more they stay the same” moments. Like most of us, I’ve been sequestered at home; working, but alone. Little by little …
I’m having one of those “the more things change, the more they stay the same” moments. Like most of us, I’ve been sequestered at home; working, but alone. Little by little we’ve seen COVID-19 statistics improve here in New York State and as restrictions have eased over the last few weeks, I’ve taken some baby steps—tested the waters as it were—and ventured out a few times. Attending a socially distanced performance in the garden last week at the Forestburgh Playhouse (FBP) was exciting, and I was suitably impressed by the stringent safety protocols that the FBP (as well as many other outdoor venues on both sides of the river) have implemented, so upon hearing that internationally acclaimed musician Slam Allen was slated to appear as part of the “Forestburgh Under the Stars” series, I quickly made plans to return.
Seeing the legendary blues performer make his entrance wearing a mask unnerved me. Of course, I was wearing one too, as were all of the guests before being seated. But while Slam (easily 20 feet away from audience) was able to remove his in order to perform, mine stayed firmly in place as I crisscrossed the grounds photographing the show. Sweating behind the mask while remaining careful to not actually interact with familiar faces in the garden was just plain weird and made me feel more than a little blue.
“I’ve been blessed to have performed all over the world,” Slam said, “but Sullivan County will always be my home.” He was amazing as always, as was Kyle Taylor Parker the very next night, but again... waves of mental anguish washed over me and I felt nervous being around others, complicated by my fear of the virus and more simply because it’s been so long. Having recently starred in the national tour of “Kinky Boots,” Parker (“folks just call me KTP”) wowed the appreciative audience with his powerhouse vocals and unique spin on classic Broadway standards like “I Feel Pretty,” “Run and Tell That” and “Old Man River” culled from his album “Broadway Soul Volume 1.”
KTP’s performance was colorful (to say the least!) and his talent shone through like a beacon of light in the darkness, eliciting a standing ovation from the audience, but I felt weirdly disconnected, traversing the grounds taking pictures that in my mind’s eye, were more black and white than color. Belting out “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News” from the 1975 Broadway smash “The Wiz,” Parker waved a fan emblazoned with the words “Black Lives Matter” and addressed the crowd after thunderous applause. “All lives matter,” he declared, “so wash, your hands, wear a mask and keep your bad news to yourself!”
I stumbled across some very bad news the next morning in the New York Times “Weekend Briefing” written by Remy Tumin and Elija Walker; their report was grim. “Coronavirus cases are rising in 40 states across the country,” the headline read. “The country, logging a seven-day average of 65,790 new cases a day, has more confirmed cases per capita than any other major industrial nation.”
“Well, those statistics are pretty black and white,” I murmured to the dog, hauling out her stroller (don’t judge) and heading for Barryville, NY and their fantastic farmers’ market.
“I will be launching the ‘community info’ booth [at the market] dressed as a Suffragist.” The Delaware Company’s Debra Conway had informed me via email, “registering newcomers or those who choose to ‘Vote Where Their Heart Is.’ We will also be handing out 2020 census info and explain why it is so important to bring money here for our schools, hospitals and infrastructure.”
“I’ll be there,” I emailed back. “It’ll be nice to get out and see you celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage (the right to vote). “Besides,” I added, “Dharma reminded me that we need fresh eggs.” Once again, I was simultaneously impressed and saddened by the state of affairs. With signage everywhere, the farmers market is serious about safety protocols, but the stanchions, lines of demarcation and vendors appropriately spaced apart was disheartening. Situated along the gorgeous Delaware River, Barryville’s market is a fantastic destination and there were plenty of people patiently waiting their turn to stock up on fruits, veggies and delectable treats, but my insecurities hung in the air under beautiful blue skies that I once again photographed in black and white to match my mood.
Although I’ve spoken with people who (sadly) think that all of the rules and regulations mandated by the state are “unnecessary,” this is not a gray area. “More than 3,722,200 people in the U.S. have been infected,” the New York Times article informed in stark contrast to the naysayer’s claims. “And at least 139,955 have died.” The only way to see the world-at-large retreat from the bleak landscape that I currently view in black and white is by being smart, following the rules and staying the course—in my humble opinion.