I decided to get out of the house yesterday, so I drove to the nearby Wacissa River boat ramp where we often put in our kayaks. It’s an isolated park, so I brought a lawn chair and a book. A mile from the ramp, a flashing sign informed me the river access was closed. A flashing red light beyond the sign warned me they meant it.
I then drove to my favorite place, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, which is still open with fees waived. I enjoyed a quiet hour watching the birds on the water. I left refreshed and ready to go home.
As I headed back to Tallahassee, I drove through a small community. The Ace Hardware parking lot was overflowing. People ran in and out, not a mask in sight. The same at the grocery store. Then I drove through a community with a golf course. Our governor here in Florida finally declared a stay-at-home order, but he exempted churches and golf courses from the order. No need to wonder why.
I saw exactly what I thought I would. The exemption on golf courses requires one golfer per cart. I passed by two greens with four or six carts lined up on the cart path. But on the green were congregated four to six people not six feet apart, not wearing masks, not doing anything near to social distancing. And I can bet the one green I saw with six men are men who do not live together.
While our numbers here in Leon County, Florida, are lower than some other counties, we still have it in our community–and enough of the cases are community spread. If just one member of the community has it, more inevitably do. We are a county with a 290,000 population, yet as of April 11, only 1,600 tests have been conducted with 91 positive cases. Health care officials predict we are no where near the peak, which may still be a month away.
That’s if we all do our part, and I saw yesterday we are not. I’m sure my story isn’t unique to other places in this country. Defiant churches aren’t going to let the government tell them what to do on Easter.
On a good note, this time of isolation has been a time of enlightenment. I’ve managed to edit my gardening book and am almost done with a writing handbook. I’m doing gentle yoga via Zoom, thanks to my wonderful teachers. And I’m meditating on acceptance every day. It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all.
I pray others will start to see that staying home and working on the inner landscapes can be a positive thing.
How are you all doing out there? I’d love to hear from you.
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge