Corona Chronicles: Shelter in Place

I’m sitting on my patio, watching a little brown boy in a white shirt and gray shorts. He’s riding a hoverboard on his knees. First, he goes straight all the way to the cul-de-sac, where he whirls around and comes back towards me again. Then, he twirls in circles, one, two, three times, until he’s facing straight again. Music is playing but not loud enough for me to hear the melody or words, just enough for me to know he’s listening to something while he spins in circles, passing the time.

brown squirrel eating

To his right are two squirrels. I’ve been watching them for twenty minutes. One sits close to a tree, eating something between his paws, probably a nut. I’ve always known squirrels were skittish, but I never noticed how much. It seems he can hardly enjoy whatever he’s nibbling in between sporadic looks toward distracted noises. He scurries up the tree and sits on a branch and I briefly think about making a squirrel house, with nuts and such. Who am I kidding? I don’t even want to help my husband build things for our own house, much less build a whole home for a hungry squirrel, who seems to be doing life just fine without my interference.

Now, my across-the-way neighbor has come out. He and his wife are in the at-risk age group for coronavirus; his white hair tells me so. Friday, he washed his patio screen with a hard-bristle brush while the trees on his Christmas pajamas danced. I drowned out the repetitive grating during online yoga. Saturday, I saw him drive a two-seater sports car for the first time. His wife slowly backed their white SUV out of the driveway, making space for him to zip into the one-car garage. Today, he’s semi-dressed for an outing: light-blue, short-sleeved, buttoned-down shirt, navy casual shorts, barefoot. We have an automated sprinkler system and rain has begun to drizzle, but for some reason he’s decided to water the bushes.

boy s blue crew neck shirt
Photo by Jessica Lewis on

Two hours have passed. There’s a father-son duo riding their bikes up and down and up and down the street to the same dead-end hoverboard-boy glided towards. This is the fourth time I’ve seen them. I wonder if the father is wearing a helmet to model good cycling practices for his son, who looks to be no more than five years old, or if he wears it because he really believes it will protect him, should he fall on this short jaunt. I also wonder where the mother is. I always question mothers’ whereabouts when I see fathers and their children. It’s probably a result of my own social conditioning. Here they come again, a fifth revolution.

I’ve sat here long enough. I know because hoverboard boy is back at it, this time a bit more dare devilish with his twirls. I glance up to see him belly down on the concrete. He’s limping back to his garage. He returns with his bike.

I wonder if anyone heard me cackling with my sister for hours the other day or if neighbors watched my husband and I eat waffles, sausage, and eggs in our PJs this morning. Is someone sitting in their home office, peering out their window at the brown woman, wearing glasses, trying to preserve her final month of contacts, while tip-tapping away on her orange laptop? Are they guessing what I’m writing, creating a narrative about why I’ve been sitting here for three days? Or, have they assumed as I have that we’re all creatively sheltering in place?

P.S. I wrote something similar three years ago from Starbucks. It’s funny what can change in a short amount of time. While I realize I cannot go to Starbucks and people-watch, I can make my own coffee, sit on my screened-in patio and create a similar experience. Adjustments. We all have to make them and function according to our current circumstances.





26 thoughts on “Corona Chronicles: Shelter in Place

  1. I love the visuals! My unfriendly neighbor across has been the most active during these times. She went ham on the holiday decorations (for EVERY holiday) and she works at a hospital yet comes home during what I assume to be her lunch breaks to de-stress, smoke and talk on the phone while pacing in her driveway. And I never see her dog who is too big to live in this small townhome community without a yard! I’ve created many stories from her alone. Who needs cable??

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I video chat with my daughter while taking a break from Los Livingroom and visiting Playa de Patio. She cackles at my observations because she knows how strange my neighbors are and how warped her mother is. Gotta find your fun where you can. Enjoy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am glad that you are staying safe. I absolutely love people watching. I often wonder where the mothers are too, even though I grew up equally around both of my parents I’d say. I wonder why we think that.

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  4. I always enjoy reading about your people watching observations, Katherin. As far as where the mother is, maybe she needed a break and kicked them outside. I would do that in a heartbeat years ago when my kids were little. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Judy! Lol about the mother. You know we never even think that maybe the dad is just the primary caregiver 🤷🏽‍♀️

      Allllsssooo, my hubby and I were admiring your Beechnut photos! I just had to show them to him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for your compliments on my paintings, Katherin. You always know how to put a smile on my face. I am honored you shared them with Dwight!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. An interesting vignette, KE, so true to life. During March when it was chilly and rainy, it was easy to get people to stay inside. But it’s warming up. My dog stays out for hours watching a squirrel we call “Tubby.” She’s one of those distractions that ruins his meal.
    Neighbors are mowing and raking and tilling… We have a few like your guy who waters his bushes when it’s about to rain. Kids are playing out in their yards, riding bikes and scooters and Big Wheels, watching their dad build a tree house, etc. I used to wonder if people noticed what I was doing. Truth is, unless you’re being a nuisance, blasting your music or letting your dog bark all day, most folks pay no attention. So enjoy your breakfast and your PJ’s in peace. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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