Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Desert Sojourn

I sometimes think you have to be a shape-shifter, a time traveler and certainly imbued yourself with as adjustable attitude if you want to survive this pandemic in the desert. Many of the trappings of present-day Palm Springs are gone now, at least for this season. What’s left behind is a hint of the trappings of a desert community before money and status and the afternoon cocktail hour clouded the desert sands.

Life in the desert is different now. The pandemic has caused the regular winter tourist season to grind to an agonizingly slow crawl. Nothing is as it used to be. Normally each weekend is filled with carefully planned events, activities, and festivals that cater to a diverse audience of snow-birds, visitors, weekenders and topic-specific folks.

But not this season. Like Minnesota and most other states, California has restricted patronage in restaurants, clubs, gyms and other gathering spots.

The list of annual events that have been canceled, delayed or postponed until future notice is remarkable. These are hallmark events that have long been identified with Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley during the winter months.

Events like the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Modernism Week, Coachella, Stagecoach, the White and Diana (LGBTQ) Parties will not happen this year. Closer to home, large social gatherings like our own Indian Canyon Neighborhood parties have been canceled.

I tried to capture a sense of what it was like this summer back in Minnesota in the year of COVID-19. I started with The Great Escape in describing our leaving Palm Springs for Minnesota as the pandemic was closing down most of California and starting to affect the rest of the country.

Then I shared my experiences In the Year ofthe Pandemic to explain how Sharon and I were coping with the myriad of changes thrust upon us by common sense and government regulations. All of which morphed into a number of discovered alternatives to life as we used to know it. Like listening for the birds in a forest. More reading. More writing. More art projects. Now we’re trying to do the same thing here in the desert; searching for alternatives, substitutes and other options for a world turned upside down.

Instead of using our social membership at the Saguaro Hotel, Sharon is hosting friends in our pool for daily workouts. I have taken to walking the berm, biking and hiking mountain trails instead of the hotel machines.

Locally, most of the theaters are still shut down and offer no time frame for reopening. Therefore, I am concentrating on finishing up newest novel (my twelfth) and marketing it. I also have a number of plays that need to be tightened up, edited with a sharp-edged pencil and packaged for marketing (hopefully) next summer.

Neither Sharon nor I have been in a restaurant for the last nine months. Our dinner engagements are now strictly confined to parties of four, usually outdoors under a space heater and with proper social distancing. Instead of Sharon’s past parties for twenty, these intimate gatherings bring more security, calm and great conversation for all of us.

Strangely enough, I am sensing a permanent change of some of our routines with little to no residual sadness attached. Outdoor coffee salons  ‘Playdates’ blog certainly beat indoor coffee shops. Dinner with friends on the porch can equal or surpass restaurants, exercising outdoors can be just as rigorous as indoor gyms. The list goes on and on.

There are still some silly things from the past that I might miss a little:

Sneaking a peek

Brian and me and a couple of libations

Hiking mountain trails with Melanie

Spending time with the grandkids

There are a lot of the ‘old normal routines’ that I sorely miss and want to return to. But there are also a number of newly discovered alternatives that have become even more attractive.

Hopefully, I can go with the best of both categories and improve my day-to-day routine along the way.

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