The things that carried us in 2020


When everything was bad, the scallop salad from Farmer & The Fish was so, so good. Photo by Benjamin Allen, HudValley Photo

2020 turned out to be a year that none of us could have imagined. We were forced into our homes, to suppress the basic human urge to be with others, to avoid family during the holidays. We coined—and then overused—the phrases “flatten the curve,” “social distance” and “mask up.” If we never have to see another face mask again, it’ll be too soon.

But it wasn’t all bad. Silver linings were there if you looked for them. This town, for one. Below, the top five things that carried us through this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

1. Open spaces

    How lucky are we to live in a place that prioritizes open space the way that North Salem does? Protecting open space is one of the central pillars of the town’s comprehensive plan, enacted in 2011. When everything was shut down this year, including town parks and playgrounds, movie theaters and stores, we could turn to our beautiful open spaces for a safe and healthy outlet. The North Salem Open Land Foundation keeps over 1,300 acres preserved and undeveloped, available to the public for walking, riding, cross-country skiing and other forms of recreation. To them we are forever indebted. Tax-deductible donations can be made in order to support the work that protects the Foundation’s 23 preserves and 12 easements.

    2. Joe Bohrdrum Park

    If you’re a parent of young children, you know that Joe Bohrdrum Park, known as “JB” to locals, is a lifeline. At just about any given day or time, you can show up and run into other children for your kids to play with. This summer, the Recreation Department successfully held day camps to keep our kids active and socializing with activities including lacrosse, basketball, floor hockey, tennis and arts & crafts.

    During the still-warm early days of fall, many parents could be seen gathering at JB after the online school day was over, giving their kids a chance to burn off Google Meet fatigue and themselves a chance to commiserate with one another about how everyone was surviving this challenging year. As recently as this past week, parents, kids and dogs could be found bundled head to toe in winter gear, braving the cold for a dose of safe outdoor togetherness.

    3. Our farms

    Whether you are Team Outhouse or Team Harvest Moon, we can all agree that our local farms are a treasure. For us locals, state-mandated social distancing requirements had an unanticipated benefit: this summer and fall, it felt like the farms were ours again. A picnic table could be easily reserved at Harvest Moon when lazy summer nights called for Hardscrabble cider and wood-fired pizza. No longer did we have to dodge city folk arriving by the busload to pick apples and bask in apple cider donut-soaked Instagram glory.

    4. Takeout

    Three meals a day, seven days a week. It was all too much. Too many groceries, too much menu planning, too many dishes, rinse and repeat. Fortunately, our local restaurants were there to give us a break. From the scallop salad from Farmer & the Fish to the perfect pie from Frank’s Pizza, North Salem’s eateries got creative with outdoor dining, to-go boxes, online ordering, contactless delivery and anything else necessary to stay safe and keep us fed.

    Is there such thing as too much pizza? Not in 2020. Photo courtesy of Danielle Gervais

      5. Dogs and horses

      When suddenly no one was safe to be around, our animals still were. Families that had never had a dog before were suddenly welcoming a new pup into their lives. Those that already had a dog or two added one more. In a year when so many of our leisure activities became either highly regulated or deemed unsafe, heading out for a ride on a horse or walking a dog was the perfect (therapeutic) way to stay active, get outdoors and relieve the stress of it all.

      Tell us, what are some of the things that got you through 2020?

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