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report from Florida

I do not want you to hate me. Yes, I am in Florida, and yes, I am sitting outside in shorts and t-shirt at an internet cafe; the sun is shining and I can hear the water of the Gulf of Mexico swooshing in a few hundred yards from here. It’s 10.30 a.m., and I’ve already had a strenuous day, starting with my usual ten-minute jogette on the beach opposite my mother’s condo, stopping periodically to look at sea birds and pick up shells.  Then I rinsed myself off in the pool, which overlooks a bay on which sailboats sail and pelicans glide and which is overhung by palm trees. 

But it is supposed to RAIN later today, and even if it doesn’t, it is uncustomarily WINDY. Everyone is complaining about the wind. The pool at the condo will be empty all day, because of the wind. I have just checked the weather at home – the day after I get back, it will be minus ten celsius, feeling like minus 17, with snow. These Florida folk are insane; they do not know from wind.

I’m here to get Mum’s condo ready for her and her sister Do, who arrive on Thursday; I’ll get them groceries and necessities and make sure they’re settled before I leave. But I did manage to schedule three days of complete solitude for myself here before they come in. This is the third day. I’ve had an occasional conversation with a neighbour, a few phone chats with the folks back home and that’s it – otherwise, reading, walking, staring at the bay. I go to the beach opposite every night at 5.15 to watch the sunset, which happens amazingly fast, the red-gold ball just dropping into the gulf. I have watched a stunning documentary on India and another, last night, on the printing font Helvetica, imagining my children observing this – their mother, as usual, absorbing the most obscure things, this time the history of a font. It was fascinating. 
Best of all, I have discovered a cache of Uncle Edgar’s compilation tapes. Mum took all her C.D.’s back with her last time she was here, and I didn’t bring any. In the city, I’m often too busy to listen to music; here was my chance, and I thought there was none until I discovered the tapes. Uncle Edgar travelled often to bridge tournaments and needed to take his extensive collection of baroque music with him, so he made himself scores of tapes. These ones are stuffed with Bach, of course, his favourite, but also Mozart, Schubert, Vivaldi. Each evening I sit in the darkness listening to another, feeling blessed not only by the brilliance of the music but for the many gifts of my Uncle Edgar.  His legacy made possible this condo that my mother was able to buy. She and Do for years used to spent January to the end of March here; now they can only come for a few weeks, but it’s worth it; walking on the beach, sitting in the shade have kept them alive.
And me too.  

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2 Responses to “report from Florida”

  1. Lynnie says:

    Beth, I think that during hurricane season, these Florida folk might actually “know from wind” … 🙂

  2. beth says:

    Lynn, you’re right, some parts of Florida have more wind than they know what to do with. But this part on the west coast has not suffered from hurricanes. I always feel down there that anyone who complains about the cold should spend one day in Toronto – no, in Moose Jaw – in February. Talk about getting things into perspective.

    Happy New Year.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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