It has been a strange six months at Fort Frederica National Monument. I recently looked back on the four years we have been working at Fort Frederica with our boss, Ranger Michael. The first year we had to clean up from Hurricane Matthew. The second year we had an ice storm. The third year we had the government shutdown. And this year we had a pandemic. I wonder what a “normal” year might look like!
Because of the pandemic, our stay here this year lasted much longer than we anticipated. We had planned to leave here in the middle of April. Instead we have continued through May and June. A strange six months. Longer than we have lived anywhere since we retired.
With the park closed for almost two months, we saw fewer visitors than we usually see. Even though attendance picked up in June (between 200 and 300 a day), we missed all the school groups and the spring breakers that we usually see.
Tom and I are very thankful that we were able to ride out the time of quarantine here at Fort Frederica. We had plenty of space to move around, jobs to keep us occupied, and a few people to be part of our quaran-team. When things started to close down in March, we were able to hunker down with the other volunteers. When they left in April, we continued to interact with the two interns that also live on the grounds. So we had people to work with, talk to, and see every day. During all of this we continued our weekly game nights – the only time we get “wild.”
Now that the quarantine is lifted, people are getting increasingly sloppy about social distancing and wearing masks. Downtown St. Simons has been off limits to us for a while because there are too many people too close together without masks. Many of the restaurants are so glad to be open again that they aren’t taking any precautions. In fact, just this week, three restaurants on the island closed because employees have coronavirus.
So Tom and I feel that it is time to head back to Ohio. Ohio seems to be taking all this a little more seriously. More importantly, we can limit our exposure to people a little more by not having to work in a park for a couple of months.
As our strange six months comes to an end at Fort Frederica, we think about all the people we love here and are thankful for them. And we look forward to seeing the people we love and have missed so much in Ohio.