Kish has been in touch with our neighbors up in Stonington, Maine. Stonington, as you may recall, is a tiny lobster village located at the far tip of Deer Isle, jutting out into the Penobscot Bay. It is a remote location, to say the least.
In their communications, our neighbors have mentioned something interesting: many of the seasonal property owners are coming up earlier than ever before to open up their Stonington residences. Normally, only permanent residents would be in Maine during this time of year, in what the locals jokingly call the “mud season.” Typically, the summer residents wouldn’t show up at their Deer Isle places until late May or the beginning of June, at the earliest — and yet, this year, here they are already, up from New York City and Boston and Washington, D.C.
Can you blame them? The big East Coast cities are COVID-19 hot spots, where many of the U.S. cases of coronavirus have been identified and there are concerns about how the medical facilities will handle the caseload. In contrast, one neighbor told Kish that there are no reported COVID-19 cases in Stonington, on Deer Isle, or indeed anywhere in the surrounding county. (Of course, nobody up there has been tested, either.) According to recent news reports, there have been 155 cases of coronavirus in all of Maine, with most of those clustered in Cumberland County, where Portland is located, which is about three hours away from Stonington by car.
I would imagine that the dispersion from NYC and Boston to places like Stonington is being seen throughout Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. It’s mind-boggling to think of how difficult it must be for Manhattanites living on a densely populated island to achieve meaningful “social distancing” during this time. If you’ve got to work remotely, and you’re fortunate enough to have the option of going to a faraway location where you aren’t cheek by jowl with other people as soon as you step out your front door, why not take “social distancing” to the max and head out to the remote, less populated areas and wait until the COVID-19 virus burns itself out?
Many of us wonder whether this coronavirus pandemic will result in lasting changes to American culture and society. I think that one possible result is that more people will become interested in exploring, life outside the big cities, where there’s some elbow room to be had when the next epidemic hits. They might just find that they like it. And with the technological advances that allow people to work remotely, why not go into full dispersion mode?