Today is our last full day in Florida and then it’s back to the snow and overcast chill of Michigan. I have a push-pull thing with this back and forth routine but some things are becoming clear, even in this first year of owning the tiny Florida house.
The main thing is it doesn’t seem possible for me to own a house without making it into a home. We bought this 1930 Arts and Crafts Bungalow in the historic section of NE St. Petersburg because it had tax benefits, appreciation value and we could rent it out to friends and family to offset some of the cost. The location is ideal; it’s 3 blocks from Coffee Pot Bayou and the Bay, six from the revitalized downtown shops, restaurants, pier and museums and a quick hop over to the Gulf and all the beaches there. We’re in a no-flood zone and fairly well sheltered by the Bay in hurricane season (some of the trees overhanging our street are 100 years old.)
I didn’t think I would like Florida but it has proved to be a good escape from that dreary long spell of gray that pervades Michigan in January and February. The weather is gorgeous; the birds and dolphins and manatees are active. We love our neighborhood and friendly neighbors.
In Michigan, my day is marked by appointments in my office, phone calls, lunches with friends, pilates and yoga, knitting, blogging, cooking meals for Rich and any starter person who drops by for dinner. And attending to the cats and birds.
In Florida, we spend a lot of time biking and reading and, for Rich, golfing. I dropped Rich before daylight this morning at the course and there were already over a hundred duffers getting organized to tee off; Rich can always be a fourth if he gets there early enough and then he’s done by lunch and we have the afternoons to bike around. We also do some work here. Rich works where ever he is but this trip I have started writing a professional paper that I’ll deliver in early February; it’s on finding time for family life in today’s busy and technologically focused world.
This trip it became clear that, if we’re going to spend any amount of time down here in winter months we need to sign up for internet service. Thus far, we’ve managed with me pirating the neighbor’s wi-fi by sitting in the front yard while Rich uses some sort of connection card that gets him on no matter where he is. At home, my blogging fits neatly into a morning hour, time over lunch and then an hour at the end of the day. Here, I have to work to find time in a much less busy schedule, to get online and post and visit online friends. Surprisingly, the days fly by.
This trip we cleared out some highly invasive “Mexican sunflower” that grew 12 feet high and was taking up a quarter of our already small yard- dug it right out by the roots- and then we planted a Key Lime, a tangerine and a lemon tree. We met with a couple builders to talk about possible ways to add a bedroom and bath. I miss the cats a lot so I spend some time enticing the neighbor’s cat over to visit while I read on the deck. Also, I have organized a small colony of anoles (those tiny lizards) through my gardening activity: when I move giant rocks and clear out dead wood they appear from nowhere, en masse, to eat uncovered ants. I’m working on a schedule of timed reinforcement so I can gain influence over them and make them my pets. Just never you mind.
Anyway, I haven’t been very visible this week in the blog neighborhood. I’ll be back around next week and hopefully, you’ll all be where I left you because I miss you. For now, I’m in the final days of soaking up the sun, soaking up The Snarl between her classes at USF, reading, writing and making this place more mine.
I’ve been doing a lot of bird watching. When I bike down to the Bay I see the herons. When I drop Rich at the golf course early in the morning I see the Osprey busy up on their platform nest, feeding their young and I see Roseate Spoonbills and Egrets and, of course, the perennial Florida favorite, Flamingos. (submitted for Friday’s Ark and Photo Friday: “Pink”)