Isolation Photo Project, Day 84

On 24 March, at the start of “shelter-in-place” in the North East, Jeff Sinon announced the “Isolation Photo Project” project and asked the other photographers to join him. His employer had just shut down, and he wanted a distraction.

Have you been cooped up inside due to the coronavirus? Whether you’ve got two acres or a tiny postage stamp, a house in the country or a small apartment, it doesn’t matter, even if you can't leave the confines of your home, get out your camera and exercise those creative muscles. Make at least one photo a day for as long as your isolation lasts. Share it in a blog post with “Isolation Project” in the tags, or follow me on Twitter and use the hashtag

The project provided me with a distraction from my anxiety during the early weeks of "shelter-in-lace” when I felt the world was in a cataclysmic pandemic death spiral. The project kept me outside connecting and healing in the forests and woods of Hunterdon, Mercer and Somerset Counties. It gave me something to look forward to each day as I planned which preserve or nature trail to visit. Knowing about my anxiety, my wife encouraged my efforts, joining me on most of my explorations.

But today, when we attempted hiking Goat Hill in Lambertville, I realised the state isolation was at an end. The small parking area at the bottom of the hill was filled to capacity, and the spillover had filled the entire length of the narrow roadway leading to Goat Hill. We turned around and came home. Weekend hiking is no longer an option.

On 9th June, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy lifted the state's stay-at-home executive order. The revised executive order also allows indoor gatherings and raises the limit on outdoor gatherings. The limit on outdoor gatherings will be raised from 25 to 100 people. Many of the restaurants and breweries I have followed on Instagram to get updates on curbside take out menu, announced that they were serving food or beer once again. The smarter ones, realising they could not accommodate social distancing rules, repurposed their back lawns and parking spaces into outdoor dining spaces. There was more traffic on the single-lane country roads than before. In fact, the roadways seemed to have their pre-pandemic traffic patterns.

I think this is premature. I think the politicians have allowed this for political and financial reasons. The virus has not receded. I see the cars filling the trails head parking spaces, I see the protesters on the street, I foresee large backyard BBQs and I think by the end of August, we’ll be back to isolating. I think the general public is perhaps fed up and want relief but to be blunt, many will do insane mental gymnastics to convince themselves that somehow, it's safer to be out and among people, than it was just a few days ago.

There is no vaccine. Until there is one, I will not set foot inside any building that isn’t a grocery store or pharmacy. I will continue washing my hands and wearing masks and staying two metres from the nearest stranger. You will not see me a shoulder to shoulder with strangers inside the patio of a beer garden. I will not be hosting family BBQs in my yard. New Jersey may have ended its government-imposed isolation, but I will continue my self-isolation.

Submitted as part of the 100DaysToOffload project.

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