Here we go again, another season in the desert. Only third time is still no charm. It’s just a repeat of the last two seasons living with Covid. The names have changed from Delta to Omicron but the results are the same. The ever-present hospital crisis, labor shortages, food chain disruptions, a lack of social gatherings and old habits now curtailed because of the pandemic.
Beginning in late fall and early winter of 2019, Sharon and I could all feel that something was going on. Despite the half-hearted reassurances from the government and confusion on the part of the media, it was obvious that things were amiss both abroad and probably in our own back-yard.
Fast forward just a couple of months and a world-wide pandemic was upon us. After a couple of months basically sequestered at home, we grabbed a Suburban rental and headed back to Minnesota.
After a limited summer in Minnesota, our return to the Valley was delayed by a surprise illness. Sharon and I didn’t get back to Palm Springs until early December of 2020 instead of our normal November return. That abbreviated season was limited in our social engagements, work-out venues, and a return to ‘so-called’ normal activities.
The summer of 2021 (seemingly) promised hope with its diminishing returns of infections. Then chaos returned with a vengeance and it was deja-vu all over again with a new virus named Omicron.
Over the years, a lot has changed in the Valley and many things have stayed the same. We’ve been here during some horrific wind storms, infrequent torrential rainstorms, too many minor earthquakes to count, social changes, and economic ups and down.
I could probably trace my time in the desert by the number of books, blogs and plays written during the winter months spent here. But there’s another equation that is just as pertinent. That would be the activities that used to be a big part of our life while residing here. Over time, a lot of those same organizations, events and past patterns of behavior have changed, evolved or adapted to the times.
There were a number of mountain trails I’ve hiked in the past and the tram road challenge I’ve tried to traverse. Time, age and a lack of exercise have narrowed that list down to just a few now. I could review the many gyms I’ve used for periods of a year or more. Covid shut down a lot of those places for extended periods of time. Now my own hesitancy of entering small enclosed spaces has kept me away from all of them.
The Palm Springs Writers Guild has gone through many different mutations; changing leadership, members, activities and purpose. I joined several writers critique groups over the years and participated in almost all of their book fairs. Sharon even taught selling techniques to members before the book fairs. Like any organization, that one has evolved and changed with the times.
Script2stage2Screen, a theatrical venue in the desert, provided me a wonderful opportunity to stage manage a number of their scripted plays and even had one of my own (Polly’s Amorous Adventures) produced there. That also closed down during the pandemic and only recently took tiny steps toward reopening.
I was on the board of the Indian Canyon Neighborhood Organization for several years. Sharon and I were docents on a number of their home tours during Modernism Week and even wrangled balloons during the Annual Palm Springs Winter Parade. Now their monthly and annual meetings are all on Zoom.
Sharon began her new painting career in NordeEast Minneapolis at the old NKB, Northrup King building, several years ago. She brought that enthusiasm and continuing growth to the desert and set up our garage as her new studio in the shade.
As mixed and varied as our experiences have been, I think it’s fair to say they’ve never been down or level but always, to some degree, a constant refinement, improvement, and adaptive stance taken. Unlike a lot of other retired folks here in the desert, I don’t think we’ve ever plateaued or lessened our involvement here.
Twenty years is a long time to observe other individuals and couples who reside here part-time or all year round. It doesn’t take much detective work to notice that some folks have slowed down and now totally embraced their retirement lifestyle while others have definitely declined mentally and health-wise over the years. If you’re going to slow down and ‘take it easy’ then this is definitely a good place to do just that.
Granted, the desert doesn’t hold an ace in terms of comfortable places to slow down. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have moved into Over Fifty-five Senior complexes or straight up Senior living environments. To a person, they’ve embraced this new stage of life for themselves.
I’ve had a rather productive period during our third restricted season in the desert. A plethora of new blogs were published, a new novella, a new children’s book and five plays revised and rewritten. Several play rejections have simply steeled my determination to continue plowing ahead in creating and marketing new product.
I guess I’m still of the opinion that unless you keep moving forward; age, time, and the universe just keeps conspiring to slow you down. As the clichés go, a body in motion is a body still alive. An inquiring mind is still an inquisitive mind and a desire to improve is still a goal worth pursuing.
Level and down are not viable options if you want to outpace the facts of life. It’s an accelerating and rising life that makes the tired bones and sore joints worth getting up every morning.