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In the age of stay-at-home orders, many still make time to get outside in the Upper Valley

  • Sisters Shaylynn Bunker, 13, left, and Zoey Bunker, 12, shoot baskets outside Newport Middle High School while waiting for their dad to finish a game on the nearby disc golf course in Newport, N.H., Friday, March 27, 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Gabe Humphrey, 15, left, and Mary Blewitt, 16, both of Sunapee, walk the track at Newport Middle High School in Newport, N.H., Friday, March 27, 2020. Humphrey said they were trying to stay active since school closed on March 16. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • George Neuwirt, left, who owns a residential construction business, and his employee Nathan Willey, right, work with concrete contractor Victor Branch, middle, to lay out a foundation on a house site in Croydon, N.H., Friday, March 27, 2020. Neuwirt said his business is going “out of control” with several house projects in the area. Workers supporting housing construction were on a list of essential businesses exempted from N.H., Gov. Chris Sununu’s stay-at-home order which goes into effect Friday, March 27, at midnight. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to James M. Patterson

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 3/28/2020 9:51:06 PM
Modified: 3/28/2020 9:51:03 PM

WINDSOR — Saturday’s cool, cloudy weather was not the ideal spring day, but it was still a chance for people to get outside and maybe think less about the sudden sea change and uncertainty in their lives caused by the coronavirus.

In Windsor, friends Cynthia Reeves, of Walpole, N.H., and Wendy Conquest, of Hanover, both of whom grew up near Mount Ascutney, met up for a hike on the mountain’s Brownsville Trail.

“This is a good midpoint for us to connect, get out and be active,” Reeves said.

“And a chance to see each other,” Conquest added.

Reeves said her retail business, a contemporary art gallery at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, has been closed because of the virus. Now like so many others, she is trying to calculate how long of a shutdown she can withstand and remain in business.

“You keep trying to project ahead. Well, if it’s two months, we can weather that,” Reeves said, not wanting to guess what a shutdown of six months or more might mean.

To pass the time at home, Reeves said she and her partner have turned to the numerous home projects all too familiar to every owner of an old New England house.

“We have a mantra, ‘one window a day,’ which means if we clean one window a day in two months all the windows will be sparkling clean,” Reeves said with a laugh.

“So those are the little grace notes, and of course preparing all the seedlings for the garden. The garden this year will be an earnest and full-on effort.”

Conquest, who is retired, said she gets out daily for walks, and, with her regular volunteer duties closed down, she see those closer to home a little more frequently.

“I am really having fun with my neighbors, some of whom I don’t see much,” Conquest said.

She keeps busy working on livestreaming for a nonprofit but misses the social interaction of her volunteer work.

At Moody Park in Claremont, Brandon Doody, a senior at Stevens High, and his girlfriend, Victoria Clogston, were walking among the park’s towering pines.

Clogston was home-schooled and finished 12th grade last year. For now, she is home with younger siblings, helping with their online learning while schools shut down statewide. For the most part, she said, everything is going well, but it’s a new experience.

“It’s interesting,” Clogston said, adding that her parents are also working from home. “Definitely a little chaotic; they (siblings) are sometimes distracted and it is a little difficult trying to coordinate with teachers online.”

Doody said his transition to online schooling has been easy, as he has taken courses online previously. As for missing out on being in school the final few months of his senior year, Doody said it doesn’t really bother him.

“I’m not really concerned with it or the whole graduation thing.”

Nearby, just off a trail in the park, Olivia Uyizeye was enjoying the afternoon with her daughter, Assana, not quite 1, who was playing on a blanket.

“I have more time with my daughter,” said Uyizeye, who is with the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission and is working from home. Her husband and sister are completing their Ph.D. work.

“Overall we are good,” Uyizeye said. “Most of our concerns are about our old family members, who live in New York and Florida.”

Outside the Brownsville Butcher and Pantry on Saturday morning, owner Peter Varkonyi praised the town for its response to COVID-19.

“I think the residents have adjusted well and a lot of credit goes to the town. They put a really quick action plan in place for residents who are isolated or quarantine or have a predisposed condition,” Varkonyi said, as customers drove up to pick up an order on a table outside the store entrance. “We are fortunate because many towns aren’t that proactive.”

Varkonyi said with the town’s online network they decided to move to an “isolated grocery store” about week ago that allows people to place orders and pay online for either pickup or delivery.

“For us, it is about keeping ourselves and our staff safe, our community safe, and keeping our staff employed,” Varkonyi said.

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