Kate Flora: With a bit of trepidation about Florida’s covid practices (and masking) and with only one Moderna shot for protection, last week Ken and I loaded up the car with shorts and tee shirts and our laptops and flip-flops, and headed south to spend the month of March on Sanibel Island.
Last March, as covid numbers rose and we could see and hear the neighbors around our rental pooh poohing the virus and declaring it to be a hoax or gathering in clusters as though there was no issue, we left early. Left the beach walks and the birds and the flowers and swimming in the pool and fled north. It was an eerie journey. In those early days, food outlets were closed, the rest areas were jammed and the roads were crowded with snowbirds heading north and Canadians trying to get home before the border closed. We made our normal three day trip in two, arriving in New York after driving all the way from Rocky Mount, North Carolina in driving rain to reports of snowstorms in New England. By Providence it was snowing, making our warm, beachy vacation quickly a thing of the past.
Who could have imagined it would be a whole year later and our worlds would still be so circumscribed? So cautious? That forays away from the house would still feel a lot like heading into battle, armed not with weapons but with hand sanitizer, wipes, masks with extra filters, and only on essential journeys.
Luckily, things went smoothly. Total compliance with mask wearing at the first hotel, along with social distancing, only two people or a family group to an elevator, and the first dinner away from home in a long, long time. Georgia was slightly less careful and masked, but we survived. A quick visit with friends (both with two doses of vaccine and social distancing) to enjoy a tour of Sarasota, then back on the road.
Today we landed in our rental house and unpacked. It will feel strange, and yet familiar, to sit on someone else’s stool at someone else’s counter, and see what story will become my task for March. Since I had so much fun writing Wedding Bell Ruse, my one and only romantic suspense, I might unearth an old short story about a match-making dog, and see where it goes. But during those long hours on the road, a short story, Ma Baker’s Revenge, has begun to emerge, so I’ll probably start with that.
There are big signs on the approach to the island that instruct people to wear masks. I expect this will still be a month of delivered groceries, not eating out, and carrying masks even to the beach. But after so many years of my Sanibel month in my life, I’m still looking forward to this partial escape from captivity and curious about whether my enthusiasm for writing, dimmed by this covid year, will return.