With COVID cases rising locally, across the country and across the country, and the uncertainty surrounding the new omicron variant, navigating around the pandemic is still as difficult as it has been since the beginning.
In addition to being vaccinated and wearing a well-fitting mask when you are near other people, there are still ways to get out of the house in ways that are mostly safe if you feel closed during yet a pandemic winter.
Or, if you are more comfortable staying home, there are ways you can feel like you came out and socialized for a while.
Whether you want to get out and enjoy the fresh air, want to get in touch with others and make new friends or even learn a new skill, here are some activities so you can enjoy yourself while avoiding large crowds:
Come outside and enjoy a walk in the Greater Taunton
The best way to stop feeling so stuffy is to get outside and get a little bit of fresh air if you can.
Fortunately, Taunton has a number of places where you can go and enjoy a walk, hike or bike ride, whatever you fancy.
It’s a great way to spend some time with family or meet up with friends if it’s safe to do so, and see some natural beauty together.
The new year often offers a bombardment of advice on how to get more exercise, or stick to weight loss decisions, but since it’s subtle body shame, we do not go that route. Let’s just say that walks are good for your overall health, including your mental well-being, which is just a bonus to getting out and having fun.
Get started:5 easy places to start exploring Fall River’s Bioreserve and how to get guided tours
Make sure to stay hydrated, pack a snack, and have a mask on hand if you also need it.
Here are a few places around Greater Taunton where you can get outside and avoid these crowds:
Gertrude M. Boyden Wildlife Refuge
Where: 1298 Cohannet St.
Timer: Open all seven days of the week from kl. 9 to 20; also sometimes referred to locally as the “bird sanctuary.”
Massasoit State Park
Where: 1361 Middleboro Ave., East Taunton
Timer: Open seven days a week from 7:30 to 18:30
Westville Conservation Area
Where: 132 N. Walker St.
Timer: Open all seven days of the week from kl. 7 to 19
Sweets Knoll State Park
Where: 1387 Somerset Ave., Dighton
Timer: Open all seven days of the week from kl. 06:00 to 18:00
Dighton Rock State Park
Where: Third Ave., Berkley
Timer: Open all seven days of the week from kl. 8am to 4pm, although closing times vary by season. Call the park for updates at 508-822-7537.
Hewitt’s Pond Preserve
Where: End of Rogers Street, off N. Main Street, Raynham
Timer: N / A; has a freshwater pond and path
Freetown-Fall River State Forest
Where: 110 Slab Ridge Rd., Assonet
Timer: Open seven days a week, from 6:30 to 20:00
In addition to the satanic panic:The true history of Fall River Bioreserve is full of history and beauty
Socialize with virtual events
If you want to get out but not necessarily go out, virtual events are a great way to socialize.
You can jump on a video chat, get some human interaction, and here’s the best part, stay in your comfortable pajamas all the time.
Check with local organizations to see what they have to offer; most people will post events on their Facebook page, making it extra easy to respond to an event. Eventbrite is also a handy tool for seeing what comes up.
This is only a small list, but places like the Taunton Public Library, the Old Colony History Museum, the Downtown Taunton Foundation, and the Taunton Art Association (or any organization or group like these) are great places to start leading.
For example, every month the Old Colony History Museum holds a virtual event called A Taste of Old Colony History, where they bake a historical recipe that often has ties to our region. One of the earliest was how to bake classic Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies.
This month, they’ve actually got a double-header: brown bread and baked beans. On Thursday 27 January from 6.30 pm to 8 pm, OCHM will upload a video of the recipes that will be made, and then there will be a Conversation From the Kitchen to tell about the story, the cooking process and the nostalgia associated with this month’s recipe.
A taste of ancient colonial history:Behind historical recipes with the Old Colony History Museum
These events are always free. You can register to get the recipe on the museum’s Eventbrite page: http://oldcolonyhistorymuseum.eventbrite.com. For questions, call 506-822-1622.
Another way to keep up with local events, including virtual ones, is to check Taunton Daily Gazette‘s weekly “in our community” overviews. There is an update every Sunday.
If you have an event on the way that you would like to share Gazette, send an email to email@example.com.
In our community:Celebrating MLK Day and January events at the Old Colony History Museum
Learn new skills or join a club
From the beginning of this pandemic, many of us have used the time we have at home – if we are among those privileged to be able to stay home – to learn some new skills. Whether it was because we wanted to learn something new and useful, or we just needed an outlet, stories abounded about people learning to knit, or make bread, or play an instrument or tackle house projects on their own. Many people discovered skills they never knew they had.
With this winter set to be a time when many people will spend the most time at home, there is plenty of time to start learning something new or getting a hobby started.
The internet is full of do-it-yourself tutorials, but you can also sign up for classes and events through craft stores like Michaels or JOANN Fabrics.
Many colleges also offer occasional free lectures if there is a topic you are interested in. Bristol Community College, Bridgewater State University, UMass Dartmouth and Stonehill College are all great places to start leading.
Joining a club is also a great way to get out or spend time with others.
You can join a personal group, e.g. a hiking club where distance is possible and everyone is outdoors.
What about bird watching ?:Roaming eagle half the world from home draws birds to Dighton
Then of course there are online groups.
Why not start one yourself, like a book club? It’s a great way to make new friends, or keep in touch with old ones, and you all want a common purpose.
Oh look, a reading list !:Everything we’ve read this year, from ancient Greece to Arrakis
In addition, there are local bookstores such as Readmore Books in Taunton, Annie’s Book Stop in Raynham and Rivendell Books & Games in Rehoboth, where you can get everything you need to get started. Rivendell is also especially useful if you want to get started with a group that makes role-playing games that are easily played together online these days.
It can be a long winter, full of insecurities, but even in a pandemic, we can find ways to stay engaged, take care of our mental and emotional well-being, and safely get out of the house every now and then.
Taunton Daily Gazette / Herald News copy editor and digital producer Kristina Fontes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News and Taunton Daily Gazette today.