Quarantine, and the Living is Easy

Day 134, Staying at Home

Monday, August 3, 2020; Santa Fe, New Mexico

Why come to Santa Fe for a pandemic summer? No Opera, no Indian Market. The museums are all closed – even the outdoor botanical garden (which doesn’t make much sense to me). Galleries and retail shops around the iconic Plaza have limited if any hours.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is serious about avoiding the COVID-19 spikes of neighboring Texas and Arizona. Visitors to New Mexico must quarantine for 14 days – the only official reason to leave your lodging is for a medical emergency. In mid July she reclosed indoor restaurant dining. She even told potential visitors from Texas “we don’t want you here now.”

I was already here.

I had decided to come to Santa Fe for a few months to escape the heat of the Dallas summer. Since selling my house, when not cruising I’ve made a practice of short-term rentals in places I want to visit. Longer than a vacation, shorter than a move. I spent a spring month in Paris, a pre-Mardi Gras month in New Orleans, and three summers in Chicago.

Santa Fe fit the requirements of cooler weather and within a day’s drive of Dallas. A friend’s sister put me onto an available condo on the northwest edge of town, and I arrived just before the 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors arriving by car. Technically I suppose I didn’t quality, but I followed at least the spirit of the rule. I made a couple of quick, masked trips to a grocery store, occasionally picked up takeout meals curbside and eased my cabin fever with solo drives around the town and its surroundings.

Before I knew it, two weeks had passed. Now I’m a third of the way through my stay, and I fear that I won’t see and do all the things I planned.

I envisioned packing up my painting gear each day and hiking out into the desert among the sage and piñon pines, inspired by Georgia O’Keefe. I didn’t take into account the elevation of 7,000 feet and the time my body needed to adjust. Or the challenge the ultra-low humidity would present to painting with watercolor.

Despite my slow start, I’m starting to fill the pages of my new sketchbook. I don’t have to go far. My morning walks along the arroyo and the views from the condo are enough to inspire me.

On Fridays I write and then join my Chicago Just Write group’s Zoom call – not the same as meeting in person. I spend a day or two revising my blog posts and selecting photos to go along.

Evenings are spent hand piecing – yes, I know I said I was giving up quilting. And I mostly have. But I always wanted to make a Storm at Sea quilt, so I’ve started piecing it together as I watch television, lately binging on The Wire.

Otherwise, I spend an inordinate amount of time sitting on the patio. Mornings are cool enough to require a robe, while I catch up on newspapers, Twitter, Facebook and the daily NYT crossword.

Now that I filled the hummingbird feeder, I’m mesmerized by the antics of these tiny birds. I’ve filled the memory card on my DSLR camera with hundreds of photos and video – some even in focus – of them playfully chasing each other as they vie for sips of the sweet nectar.

As if that wasn’t enough entertainment, this week I filled the birdfeeders. I’m certainly not a birder and usually have no clue as to what birds are feeding. But that’s the joy of life here – no one requires me to identify any birds. I just sit and watch, read and occasionally nap.

That’s the real reason I haven’t explored much beyond my little bubble. Maybe one of these day’s I’ll do some tourist research and schedule more outings. But for now, the hummingbirds are calling for more sugar water.