These days, piling pals into a beach-bound convertible and blaring "Love Shack" poses a public health concern. One might find that the act of simply walking out the door is fraught with stress, blasting the psyche with the menacing voice of Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man": "Is it safe?"
Maybe that's just me. In any case, it's summer, and we can still enjoy it. Safely.
To assuage our more acute anxiety, turn to an herb long known to have calming, soothing qualities. A "sea of lavender" awaits visitors to Wickham Farms in Penfield, where the inaugural Lavender Fields of Hope event opened on July 1. Continuing through Sunday, July 12, the event features 1.3 acres of more than 2200 fragrant lavender plants awaiting strolls and sniffs, as well as a barn and bakery with lavender products and treats to take home. To ensure physical distancing, hourly entry is limited, and tickets are sold in advance ($10).
Yoga can also ease worry and quiet the mind. The Memorial Art Gallery (which re-opens on Wednesday, July 8) pairs yoga with art for an expansive experience on Thursday, July 9, from noon to 1 p.m. Virtual MAGsocialDeTOUR: The Art of Mindfulness will combine meditation, stretching, and deep breathing with art history and imagery from the collection. While this event is presented online, the MAG has extended its current exhibitions to view in person and make up for all the time we've missed.
More cultural institutions open their doors this week, including The Strong National Museum of Play, which will host timed visits and has added guidelines for kids' safety. Geneva Historical Society reopens on Monday, July 13, hosting outdoor grounds and architecture tours on Thursdays at 11 a.m., starting July 23.
But what to eat? Choices abound during Rochester Black Restaurant Week, which continues through July 12. Each night features a different restaurant, spanning an impressive breadth of cuisines. The final night invites patrons to select from a list of more than 50 Black-owned businesses and restaurants located throughout the city.
A nourished mind and body is better prepared for the work ahead. On Thursday, July 9, at 6:30 p.m., the public is invited to A Community Discussion on Race, Policing, and Solutions at the parking area of Church of God on Clarissa Street. Panelists include Ashley Gantt (Black Lives Matter organizer), Shani Wilson (Chair of the Police Accountability Board), Mike Mazzeo (President of the Locust Club), and members of the community, City Council, and area police departments.
Meanwhile, Unity Rides will kick off its summer Thursday bike cruises with a 7 p.m. departure from nearby Bull's Head Plaza on July 9. Now in its sixth season, Unity Rides brings together community members and members of the RPD for neighborhood bike excursions that organizers hope will foster
goodwill through the city's west side. These Thursday rides continue through September 24, alternating routes between the 19th Ward (starting on July 9 from Bulls Head Plaza) and Edgerton Park and Jones Square Park (starting July 16 from Water Tower Park on Jay Street). All are welcome, and masks are required.
The next day, on Friday, July 10, volunteers can help brighten the North Clinton corridor with No Mas: N Clinton Ave Mini "Clean Sweep," which meets at 821 North Clinton Ave at 11 a.m. This 3-hour clean-up will bring some TLC to the neighborhood, with more hands making a greater impact. Masks are required, and hand sanitizer will be provided.
The weekend brings opportunities for important work and refreshing recreation. Bittersweet: The Politics of Chocolate provides both at once, with a frank look at the chocolate industry's history of exploitation and potential to effect positive change. Laughing Gull hosts this virtual event, which features a tasting and online discussion on Saturday, July 11, at 3 p.m. All proceeds (pay-what-you-can) will benefit Teen Empowerment Rochester.
On Saturday night at 6 p.m., an outdoor panel will be presented at Whalen Park called My Black Experience in Penfield: A Panel Discussion. Current and past Black residents of Penfield will speak about their experiences, encouraging discretion to be considered if bringing small children to what promises to be a candid conversation. Bring a blanket and wear a mask.
At least three rallies are scheduled at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park to underscore the urgency for change. On Saturday, July 11, Black Lives Matter: Stop Killing Us (1 to 5 p.m.) will be the fifth in a series of protests, while Black Nurses 4 Black Lives Rally & Vigil (3 to 4 p.m.) encourages participating health professionals to come wearing their stethoscopes. And on Sunday, July 12, Black Lives Matter: March with a Purpose (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.) features a forum of five Black professional women who will discuss allyship and answer audience questions, followed by a march to the Monroe County Jail. As always, wearing a mask and physically distancing will be crucial in these large gatherings.
A Saturday drive to Middlesex will yield scenic and artistic rewards, as Rochester Folk Art Guild has re-opened. On July 11, from 1 to 4 p.m. Gallery on the Lawn will feature a browsable, outdoor display of artisan pottery, ceramics, and wooden works, as well as the skilled artists who made them. It's worth a trip to the hills.
And finally, cap off the week on Tuesday, July 14, with a leisurely visit to Branchport. Starting Tuesday, the Finger Lakes Museum will host a Self-Guided Paddling Tour. Every Tuesday and Friday through mid-August, kayakers can physically distance and pleasantly immerse themselves in this lovely part of the state. Tickets ($40) include kayak rental, and participants must register by 5 p.m. the day before.
Don't forget the sunscreen!
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