So, “Stay at Home” Is in Order

By Emilie Vardaman*

HAVANA TIMES – In fact, it is an order, from the Arizona governor. We’re all at home, and all non-essential businesses are closed.

I started staying home about a week or ten days before the official order. It made sense, as I’m no longer young and the Covid-19 virus seems to hit older people the worst.

I wasn’t really prepared. Who was, really? But I’m a pretty good introvert. Or so I thought.

I used to teach at a community college, with classes, meetings, etc. After long days, I retreated home and rarely went out. I used up all my interaction energy at work.

During that time of teaching, I was glad to live in my small town of under 800 ihabitants. I’m right on the border in southeastern Arizona. I can sit on my patio and gaze south into Mexico.

Then I retired, and I changed. In my head, though, I was still an introvert.

Now I’ve been home the bulk of the time for over four weeks.

My friends to the south, in Sonora, Mexico, are also under stay-at-home orders. Plus, hotels along the Sea of Cortez have mostly been closed, and the border going both directions is turning back out-of-country tourists.

First to go was my weekly writing group. Six women, rowdy and sometimes bawdy, all strongly opinionated. We got together weekly to talk, laugh, gripe, eat, and share our writing. I can’t believe how much I miss them.

Then it was the Saturday farmers market. Then my other book group. And then my monthly writing group. And the library. The library!

Coffee with friends. Lunch with friends. Wandering downtown Bisbee and poking into shops. Stopping to chat with friends and even strangers. All gone.

Main Street, Bisbee, Arizona

Short trips are gone. No browsing for plants at Lowe’s. No trips to Tucson, so no Costco, no Trader Joe’s, no Sprouts Market.

Not even my late winter trip to Bahía Kino (on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico), my home away from home.

And it hasn’t helped at all that the bulk of this four weeks has been cool and overcast, not the sunny late winter-early spring typical of southeastern Arizona. I began feeling lonesome. Yeah, isolated.

But it’s worse for Tricia who was passing through, traveling in her van. She had parked in my yard by the barn for a few days. She’s been stuck here for about a month now. She’s chomping at the bit to be able to finish her wanders.

No, the van doesn’t have horns. Those are Italian cypress trees behind my property.

My “daughter” Katie (we adopted each other last year) is up in Denver and wants to visit.

I have a plane ticket to visit my sister and family in Louisville. In June. Can I safely fly in June? Even if I can, I probably won’t feel safe. I’ll be canceling next month.

But there are magical moments.

Emails and phone calls from friends I hadn’t been in touch with for a long time. Web gatherings. Musical groups playing together but separately on the web.

The occasional visit from a friend. We sit on my patio, far apart.

Random acts of kindness.

And now sunshine is finally here, and days are hanging out in the low to mid-seventies. My garden is blooming.

My old girl Chloe loves to sit among the flowers.

Recentely there was a killer full moonrise.


The swallows came back to the nest they built last year and even mudded it up a bit before mama laid her eggs.
I’ve made a few visits to Whitewater Draw.


Mama and one of her babies in the barn at Whitewater.
And I made bread for the first time in over twenty years!

So hang in there, folks. Find some fun and beauty right where you are. I guarantee you they’re there.

*Emilie Vardaman is a Havana Times contributing writer. Her web page is:

8 thoughts on “So, “Stay at Home” Is in Order

  • Thanks so much, Carlyle! I’m glad you enjoyed it. And those were all cellphone shots. Amazing what our phones can do.

  • A really lovely article, but the photographs Emilie are astounding. You gave me memories of small town America and having an evening BBQ on a cattle ranch south of Tucson. Happy time. Thank you!

  • Nick, yes, one heck of a good afternoon! Seems to be lasting forever.

  • Stephen, thanks so much! I was lucky enough to have flour and a local cafe sold me some yeast. I still have enough for quite a few more loaves.

  • Emilie,
    A 47 year afternoon ??
    The long afternoons are the best afternoons……
    You take care and stay safe.

  • Thank you, Nick. I came to Bisbee “for the afternoon” 47 years ago. I now live south of there, on the border.
    John Wayne used to come to Bisbee back in the mid-70s, so you’re thoughts of Gary Cooper aren’t far off!

  • Well written piece along with some stunning photography. Excellent work!

    Like you, one of the most melancholy things I miss in this pandemic is the closure of our public library. I fully understand it is something municipal officials must undertake to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible, but without books life can be boring.

    Bread making seems to have taken over the world. Walk into any supermarket, I know here in Canada, and a shopper will not be able to find any type of flour and yeast available because both ingredients have been sold out weeks ago. We can surmise what idle hands are doing in North American kitchens. I am sure your bread is scrumptious; it looks very appetizing.

    Blooming flowers in March/April – must be nice – certainly not where I live in Canada. White is the operative word to describe the outdoors with patches of last years grass colored brown from the cold and frost.

    Arizona – as you portrayed it seems to be a pandemic paradise!!!!!!!! Just joking!!!!!! Take care.

  • Bisbee, Cochise County, Arizona is now firmly on the list of places I want to visit one day.
    (After the Lockdown.)
    Sounds wonderful. Looks amazing. Looks like the kind of place where Gary Cooper comes walking round the corner looking for bad guys to kick out of town…..
    Thank you for this positive post Emilie.

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