Just imagine. For months and months you have been saving every cent that you could, gone without that special sweater you wanted, put off buying anything that could be put off till next year, just so that you could have the vacation of your dreams, a week in sunny Florida, or Alabama, or even Louisiana. And you were going to have it in January so that you could escape your Northern home and the weather that everyone has to live with. You made plans for a new bathing suit, or at least you were going to dig out your shorts and your sleeveless tops, and you were going to really enjoy it. You knew that it might not be 80 degrees in the dead of winter, but at least it would be warm, warmer that is, than home. Your dreams of warmth, no boots, no gloves or mittens or scarves, all were going to come true for you.
On the plane you got, and off you flew. Wonderful. You arrived in Florida safely. And guess what arrived with you! A cold surge of air, actually a frigid atmosphere came right along and guess what, it stayed. It stayed and stayed. Florida residents began to grumble as they covered up their flowers to no avail. It got so cold that the colorful blooms became black overnight. The residents didn’t like the cold either, but the thing of it was, they knew it would eventually go away. It would warm up again, and it was just a temporary thing.
But you, you only had a week, and it stayed cold, got even colder. You really hadn’t brought along any clothes that would keep you warm in 30 degree weather. When the high temp is 45 that can be a problem. So out came the charge cards as you decided to buy a heavy sweater or jacket.
This started out to be a story about an event that has been happening this week. I am sure that lots of people that are here temporarily can relate to it. But I want to address the residents, the ones who will still be here when it warms up.
We are so lucky, the ones that are here for a few months or even the whole year. As we commiserate with our Northern friends let us remember back when it was us that had only one or two weeks vacation. We can smile even when we have a cold spell because we know that it will get better soon. So cheer up, our friends, someday you too will have the opportunity to visit a warmer place and you won’t be in a rush to get back home. Your turn will come and we will welcome you.
Looking at a picture from last spring, in April to be exact, out our dining room sliding door after we had just returned from Florida. The scene looked so delicate, our flowering tree just beginning to show its early bloom, the pool still covered up after a long, hard winter, the grass a very light shade of green, and all of the new season just waiting to show up and give us some sunshine.
I hear that this past winter there was a lot more sunshine than normal, and for Michigan that really sounds fantastic. February in the North is gray, gray, gray, unless it is white, white, white. Growing up in Michigan, I am so familiar with boots, mittens, scarfs, snowpants, and all of the constant changes of weather. As a child we often reveled in the snow and the ice for skating or fishing. We made forts out of blocks of snow or large snowballs and had picnics in them. But somehow we grew up and started driving a car or truck and some of the fun seeped out of our daily activity.
Time rolled on as it seems to do, and now I spend the winter where there is a lot of sunshine. That is great, being warm enough to go out walking wherever we please to go.
But when I look at this picture I remember all of the charms of a spring in Michigan, especially when you are on a farm, and the blossoms will soon be showing up on all of the fruit trees. I begin to see that it is time to start gathering up our belongings, thinking of what we will need when we take our long trip, the clothes that serve us well in both places, the things that I can’t bear to be without, no matter where we are. A trip can be a lot of pleasure if you are not in a hurry. There are always new roads to travel, new restaurants to enjoy, and hotels to stay in. When I was much younger, we used to take long trips across the country, but we often slept in the car in rest stops along the interstate. Now a comfortable bed sounds a lot better. That probably makes me an old fogie, looking back at the past, and realizing that nothing stays the same.
So Michigan, we will be on our way in the not too distant future. We will enjoy the summer and surely the fall, which is my favorite, but at some moment in time I will begin to remember the sunshine, the warm beautiful days, the friends waiting for us, and then I will begin to pack again. What a pleasure it is to enjoy two beautiful states, and the best of both worlds.
It is a beautiful November day and I am smiling at all of the sunshine around me this morning. We have arrived back in Florida for the winter from our home in Michigan and I am so happy to be here. No matter where I look I see the familiar faces and scenes that are welcoming us back.
It is not that I was overjoyed to leave the north. This year it has been blessed with a lot more sun and warm weather than is normal for a northern state in November. Living on a farm in the summertime is something for anyone to be grateful for. Altho we are retired there are still many obvious blessings when you live in a farming community. The abundance of fresh produce, the orchards to walk thru, the lack of traffic on the highways near us, all of these things make summer a delightful place.
But! Yes, everything changes. We begin to feel a nip in the air, it is getting dark an awful lot earlier, and during one rain shower it actually turns to snow for a few minutes. And then we know it is time to start changing addresses, packing up our summer clothes, and heading for our home away from home.
This year we decided to take a different route, some back roads and highways we had never traveled before, and so it became an adventure with less traffic, more rural scenery, and a lot less trucks. We live in a beautiful country, folks, and we have just seen a lot of it. We avoided the big cities and I didn’t miss them a bit. Next time we will explore even further.
But what I am noticing the most this year is how handy everything is here in Zephyrhills where we live. Everything is so close, grocery stores that I like, libraries to enjoy only a mile away, doctors of all stripes near us, bread stores, tech stores, landscaping gardens, great restaurants, anything that we could need, all within ten minutes of our house. When you live in the country as we do up north, we go 25 miles north, or 32 miles south to find the things we need.
So I have decided that in addition to the warm weather, our pleasure at being out of the winter storms, all of the things that I like about Florida, one of the very best things is how handy it is to be here, enjoying life, with the best of two worlds.
Looking at this picture of my bird feeder in Michigan about five years ago, I am reminded of why we are now living in Florida for a few months each year. The feeder is on a railing just outside of our kitchen sliding door, and many a summer morning is spent enjoying the many birds that come to see us each day. The feeder has an apple crate over the top of it each night because the raccoons in our area think that this is their personal feeding trough. They are very messy and they dig more than they eat. As darkness comes upon us each evening my husband heads for the deck to cover it up because the raccoons are night time feeders. But if I sleep in even a few minutes over my normal time in the morning the birds fly in and start tapping on the top of the crate.
So I go outside and remove the crate. Just to let them know that I am here I also tap on the crate, and as I watch I can see our feathered friends perching on the branches of the big maple trees in the yard.
I really love the birds. I just don’t love them enough to stay home in Michigan all winter in order to feed them. Guilt arises in me as I make this statement. I know that other neighbors feed them, I tell myself. I’ve thought that maybe I could arrange to have someone come in and fill the feeder for me. But the yard usually has three feet of snow and so does the driveway.
What to do? I have decided. Maybe the birds are smart enough that they too have flown to a warmer climate.
They must do that, because each spring as I come back so do they. They too must be “snowbirds”. I sure hope so.