A RiverMead Summer in the Time of Covid-19- RiverMeadia Fall 2020 By Diane Hill

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 As the coronavirus numbers grew nationally, in the early months of 2020, “shelter in place” protocols were established within the RiverMead community.  Public spaces were closed off.  Visitors were not allowed.  Group activities ended.  Independent Living residents were confined to RiverMead grounds. Masks and social distancing became the norm.  Luckily, we could go outside and outside we went.  Some bicycled and others took a short stroll. Many walked and hiked the campus repeatedly and traversed the trails fringing the property.  Walkers ratcheted up their routines, mindful of their smart watches recording every step. They greeted one another with a wave and then speculated as to who was behind the mask.  It was sometimes easier to identify a resident by their walk.

The staff went into overdrive delivering dinners, keeping us active, educated, amused and safe in our isolation.  We turned to the internet and we Zoomed, FaceTimed, emailed and texted. Orders flowed out and deliveries rolled in.

The nicest thing, and maybe the thing that makes RiverMead so different is that we residents end up feeling valued after joining the community. You all still check in on us and pay attention after the “sale” is made. Doubly glad we live here now. RiverMead resident since 2019.

As the Covid-19 situation began to stabilize in New England around mid-June, some restrictions were lifted.  Resident drivers started their engines and cautiously drove out.  Some left for summer homes. Many cancelled plans and began to fashion a summer at RiverMead unlike anything they’d imagined.          

Here’s what they did:

Resident golfers engaged in frequent rounds on nearby courses.  Tennis racquets and pickleball paddles were well used on neighboring courts.  Veteran croquet players and mentors assisting new residents took to the RiverMead croquet court with masks and distancing required.  The indoor pool reopened by appointment.  Residents made reservations to enjoy beach time, kayaking and swimming in the pristine waters of nearby Cunningham Pond.  Exploring the new conservation land hiking trails adjacent to the pond brought to many a sense of relief from the confines of RiverMead.  A number of residents took their own kayaks to neighboring ponds and lakes to enjoy the glorious sunny days. Anglers returned to their favorite fishing spots.

On most Saturdays, the Monadnock Center for History and Culture led small group walking tours to different sections of our town.  The Peterborough Garden Club treated members to pop-up invitations to view local gardens at their peak.  It has been reported that the ongoing major reconstruction of the town library drew a number of sidewalk superintendents from RiverMead. Imagine that!

Our many talented residents honed their artistic skills as photographers captured shots of the flora and fauna surrounding us. A few residents installed wildlife cameras in the woods surprising themselves with delightful results (mostly).  Residents brought easels and paints, sketchpads and journals to the outdoors. Some moved craft projects to sun-filled porches.  A group of musicians practiced in preparation for a Zoom recital.

The raised garden beds on both campuses quickly became social hubs for eager gardeners as well as destinations for non-gardeners, as the June plantings jumped from the earth. These growths revealed unique and spectacular results for all to enjoy.  Individual plants and gardens around apartments and cottages added to the display of beautiful annuals and perennials.  The RiverMead grounds crew worked their own magic for all to enjoy.

Our community rallied through this summer with a strong sense of camaraderie.  Dog owners had plenty of willing substitute walkers.  Non-gardeners found surprise flowers and vegetables on their shelves.  Shut-ins received notes, cards and calls from other residents.  As we turned back the clocks and the first snow carpeted the grounds, we salute the positive spirit displayed by RiverMedians during our uncharted, unexpected summer of Covid.

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