Life in the Time of Corona Detail for W Florida Literary Federation

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View from Within

View from Within

Diane Skelton

    I’m Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, trapped inside with a bad leg and nowhere to go, staring out windows, seeking excitement. When I scheduled knee replacement surgery for Mardi Gras Day, I knew I’d be home recovering through March and well into April, but I never suspected millions of others around the world would also be confined, sheltering in place due to coronavirus. Above all, I never imagined surgical masks would be more expensive than Mardi Gras masks and staring out windows could be as exciting as watching a parade.

    “View from My Window,” a Facebook group, shares photos submitted by people around the globe showing what they see from their windows—their distractions from quarantine boredom.  My Gulf Breeze, Florida, home has 21 windows, none of which offers a view to rival any photo posted on that social media site.  My canal neighborhood, curiously named Polynesian Isles, showcases gorgeous sunsets over Escambia Bay for those who live in two-story houses or along the water.  From my one-story a block from the bay, I can stand on tiptoe and glimpse a fraction of the sun setting -- a view made possible when a neighbor plowed down more than 20 pine trees.

    I marvel at the breathtaking views posted on “View from My Window.” A man in Dubai shared a shimmering night view from his towering skyscraper window, lights dancing like fireflies, spiraling down, down, down. When I look down from my front windows, about eight inches above the flower bed beneath, I see two brown anoles cavorting on a yard-art crow.

    A woman in England posted a garden view from her back window and wrote how it calmed her after her mother’s death.  I look out the glass doors onto the screened back porch and see a destructive puppy sleeping, four legs in the air, one ear flopped sideways, exhausted from chewing the rug and gnawing on the wooden rocking chair. Calming? No. Comical? Yes.

    One Australian shared an everyday view—wild kangaroos hopping through her yard.  Every day I see wildlife from the wetlands across the street. Four mallards and their crippled female companion cross the street to snack on corn my husband leaves for them.  After they dine, the males encircle the wounded hen, and they nap. When rested, they fly back to the wetlands, about a twelve-foot trip. We do have larger wildlife, though. If lucky, maybe I can snap an early morning picture of a bear strolling down the street, licking his lips after ransacking my neighbor’s garbage.

    I’m like the cartoon depicting a man and his dog on the couch. Both are leaning over the back of the couch staring out the window. The man turns to the dog and says, “Now I see why you get so excited when someone walks by.”  I understand.  Yesterday I got excited when a family pedaling pastel-colored beach cruisers wheeled by and waved. They’ve traded beach sand for warm asphalt. Minutes later four schoolgirls hanging out a golf cart sped by, boldly defying Florida’s social distancing golf law. These days, only one person is allowed in a cart on a golf course. The twelve-year-old driving was way off course -- the nearest one is two miles away.

    I need a better view. The runners, ducks, lizards and puppy are failing to entertain. Now in my fifty-sixth day of confinement, I’m starting to fantasize. When my son dismantled a dilapidated metal shed in our backyard, I began mentally planting a garden to fill the void – sort of like the prisoner-of-war movie in which the character draws blueprints in his mind to keep his sanity.  I’m imagining a tropical backyard transformed with colorful plumbago, lantana, azaleas, hibiscus, and butterfly ginger.  In actuality, however, the thought of pushing a hoe or shovel with my still-mending knee forces me to sit down at the computer and visit another website – realtor.com.

Life in the Time of Corona

Within weeks after March 11, 2020 World Health Organization’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, West Florida Literary Federation offered its writers a catharsis. By April, regional writers were submitting words and images to preserve this time in history. The ongoing project began with Phase I, a special edition of The Legend published in May. It featured more than thirty juried submissions. Life in the Time of Corona continues with Phase II, updated as submissions are accepted. Here are the voices of health care workers, poets, essayists, historians, and the images of artists and photographers, documenting this time in Northwest Florida's history. The ongoing project ends with the advent of a vaccine or declaration by the World Health Organization.

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