(Alive and well in Florida)
Did I mention that I will be mostly alone this winter, save the company of two fine cats? Rich’s work will keep him in Chicago so we will be long spells apart. For the three weeks before Christmas, this was sounding like a fine idea to me. I suppose I’m the only one of you who thinks the occasional marital hiatus is a good plan. Sometimes in the past, I’ve admitted to this kind of idea, thinking everybody must feel the same and then, much to my embarrassment, I find out it’s not true and you all are still like giddy newlyweds. Anyway, just before Christmas he was, for the umpteenth time, at the “single most stressful’ point of his career and I was, for the umpteenth time, trying to figure which of his relatives I should send cards to while managing every single non- business aspect of our households and life and, well, things got a bit testy. And I thought, thank God, we’ll be getting a break from each other this winter, because familiarity breeds contempt as does underwear piled up on his side of the bed and a total inability to read mail. His absolute refusal to engage in any holiday cheer leaves me with all the fun of driving around in Chicago to stores I don’t want to be in buying gifts nobody needs and by the time Christmas comes, especially this year after that hellacious drive south, well. You get the picture. We were both a bit raw around the edges.
And then he was gone to the other side of the state for meetings this past week and six hours into that I was missing him. Just a little, until it was time for bed and then it was a whole lot. “I’ve got your back” came to mind and since I didn’t, literally, have his, I cried a bit and the f-ing cats couldn’t be bothered to come around and offer a little comfort. They’re on vacation and between nocturnal genes and Florida weather, they’ve already switched to sleeping all day and yard prowling all night. Sometimes cats are a waste as pets.
So. Here I am. Bracing for, yet looking forward to a winter of peace and quiet. Alone. Without my main squeeze. Because I am seasonal, I usually take the initiative and let my Florida friends know I’m here. Then a winter social schedule kicks into gear with neighborhood porch parties, morning yoga, gardening outings. I’m co-chairing the garden club these next three months. We’ll have the big monthly neighborhood get-together at our house in March. I have good company scheduled to arrive here at various times during the winter. I could get very busy, especially if I unleash my gregarious side. And yet, right now, I’m more in touch with the quiet, loner part of my personality and really, that’s no small part.
I’m thinking of this as my Anne Morrow Lindbergh sort of winter, the one when she wrote Gifts from the Sea. Not that I’ll do anything like that, but time for contemplation is nice. It feels like the best of times to be still and move slowly, mull over where I’m at as I approach my seventh decade (ye gads. I’m still two years from sixty, but still…). I plan to attend yoga 3- 4 mornings a week and on the other mornings take an early beach walk along Ft. DeSoto. Grow the earth boxes. Eat well. Read. Work on my surface design efforts. Watch the Hannibals. (He’s here, calling for her. When she returns that wonderful hawk season will gear up in our live oak out front, with steamy mating dives, nest padding and stick throwing and, my personal favorite, rain showers of feathers and small bird carcasses, with the occasional snake bits). Ride my bicycle to City Produce and make lots and lots of salsa from the dollar bags of over ripe Florida tomatoes. Go to Saturday morning market.
(Meet Shadow, a beauty of a red-shouldered.)
This year one activity I’ll miss is working with the children at the Family Village. With changes in administrative personnel and funding cuts, that program, sadly, fell apart. Don’t ask me how they can let go of six competent and compassionate volunteers for want of one low level administrative assistant but so be it. (I’m calling this to the attention of my new President as soon as he has time to address the roll of volunteers in America). Instead, I’ll be volunteering my time and experience at the local nature preserve where I’ve already begun working with the birds of prey program. There are about a dozen raptors, none who can be released back, and a nice group of volunteers running the education program. For now, I’m in with the little Eastern Screech owls- a comical and wild looking pair who peer out at me from their side by side boxes as I pick up their casts, mutes and give them fresh water- and the red-shouldered hawks. They are a handsome, unafraid couple who look at me with great interest, especially the hands that might feed them. In a week, after a quick turn around to Chicago and a zoo program there, I will begin training to drive the tourist tram. You can see me, giving the talk, dodging the alligators and pointing out the snakes in my Tilley hat, right?
(Casts, collected for study. Squint and you can see the, um, baby chick.)
All the while, I’ll be missing Rich. He’s such a good heart and even though he’s pretty much consumed with his work at this point, in my good moments I understand and support all that. We’re very fortunate he has meaningful work to do. When he’s not working, he’s a great companion and lover and friend. The cats and the kids love him lots and I figure that means, when I’m cranky with him, it’s most certainly me.
So, if I’m not here, I’m in all likelihood busy adjusting my attitude, picking up owl casts, pointing out sun-bathing alligators, felting on one porch or reading on the other, in yoga class or just plain considering the meaning of life. I hope this glorious weather holds.
(A handsome pair, together for life. She’s the plumper of the two. Sigh.)