Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Couple of Days Away

Husband and I spent the weekend in Florida, and I realized I had forgotten what it feels like to sit in the sunshine. It hasn't been a long winter here in Ohio...yet...but it has been a cold, snowy and gray one.

We went to Florida because my mother-in-law rented a house there, becoming one of those "snow birds" who vacate the wintry north for the moderate Florida winters who then turn around and move back when the Florida summers become so unpleasant you think you've moved into a sauna, and someone has locked the doors. Only my mother-in-law never intended to move back to Chicagoland. She wasn't migrating—she was evacuating, and she bought a house in Cape Coral.

She hasn't closed on the new place yet, so we stayed with her and a brother-in-law who is helping her out in their rental house. This house is on a canal, one of the many that chop up that part of Florida so people can sit by water and keep their boats handy. The in-laws don't have a boat, so they spend time just sitting on the patio by the empty dock, and they watch the world go by along the water. There is something mesmerizing about listening to and watching water.

There are palm trees every where, and some of them bear coconuts. The coconuts drop to the ground and eventually roll into the water, and then we watch them float with the current. The tree across the canal in this shot was a big supplier of floating coconuts. I caught brother-in-law counting the fallen fruit on the ground and keeping track of the number, and that's when I knew he needed some outside activity.

Lots of other things go by with the current, too, like palm branches, some trash, a dead mammal. I missed seeing what husband described as an unusually large furry thing that something seemed to have eaten the head off of. I suspect it was an opossum because I saw a dead one along the road, and I swear to you, it was a cross between the rat-like creature I know from this part of the country and a woolly mammoth.

Manatees go by now and then, too, but you don't know they're there until they come to the surface and breath through their blow holes. Then you see their arched backs followed by their tails, and they disappear again. They don't stay visible long enough to get a photo of them.

This is Tag, my mother-in-law's little dog who has adapted to Florida quite well. I don't think he cares where he lives, though, as long as he has his human's lap to occupy.

And this is a flock of birds you would never see in Ohio winter or summer. Egrets, maybe?

I decided pretty quickly on this trip that, while I enjoyed the visit and appreciated the warm air and sunshine, I wouldn't want to live in Florida. I like the change of seasons. I like being excited about the first snow or a big snow that will mean I get to pour another cup of coffee and hibernate for a little bit. I like walking outside after that snow to discover the first smells of spring and to catch sight of the buds on the trees. And I especially like the smells and sounds and colors of fall. All that green and blue of Florida makes for a wonderful break from a harsh winter, but I think it would get stale after a while. And it makes you do things like count coconuts.


dive said...

I kinda like the idea of sitting by the river counting coconuts, but you're right: a Florida summer would send me scurrying back to more temperate climes.

Cool that you got to see manatees, though.

MmeBenaut said...

Yes, I agree. Where you live is much prettier in winter and the change of seasons is one of the best parts of living, in my book. Contrast is what makes life interesting.
My mother and brother live in sub-tropical Queensland. It is a beautiful place to be when escaping our cold but then again, their summers are a bit like Florida without the hurricanes. Tropical rain, lush green, grey skies and saunas too. My mother is about to move into a new unit with aircon. She is so excited she can barely talk! While i love to visit, I don't think I'd like to live there.

As for manatees, they must be canal life's saving grace.