COVID 19 has arrived, trailing debris and confusion in its wake. In February who would have imagined schools closed, empty restaurants, cancelled travel and events?
We did not see this coming. Sure, there have been movies and books about this possibility, and we heard about the 1918 flu. We assumed that this would happen at some point. We just didn’t see it happening to us.
All we know is that we don’t know. Hindsight will teach us the best strategies. If hindsight is used to learn, we will be prepared for the next one. If it is used to punish, we will merely be a blame-oriented society.
Those of us who fled the cold weather are flummoxed. If we had anticipated this, we would have returned sooner. But here we are.
Apprehension is a constant companion.
I can’t speak for other “snowbirds”, but I can tell you about Key West. Key West was “ahead of the curve” in closing restaurants, theaters, hotels, beaches, bocce ball courts, tennis courts, watersports, boating, piers. Famous Duvall street, home of countless bars, restaurants, theaters, quickly became a ghost street. Unlike some parts of Florida our infection rates remain very low, less than ½%.
We have been practicing social distancing for weeks now, beaches and piers are barricaded like crime scenes. The Key West that we flocked to is filled with masked people walking aimlessly to fill their days.
Our daily question is when and if we should return. It is safe, but boring, here.
The return trip is treacherous. For me, it is a long stretch of interstate with stops for sleep, food, and gas. For those who fly, there are the airports and taxis. All chances to get infected.
Then there is the need to self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent others from being impacted by my choices.
Still, I yearn for Spring, the fragrances that change with each flower, the brightly colored bushes and flowers, the rain, the bright green grass and newborn leaves, the cool, moist soil. I deeply miss my family and friends. I miss my neighbors; I miss the St. Michaels community.
So, I wonder, when should I return? How can I return? Should I return? The daily question.
There are no guidelines, hindsight will be the only teacher. All that we snowbirds can do is guess and hope.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.