I live in the glorious Pacific Northwest. Every day I wake and look out to the most amazing views, or see them in the course of each day: stunning mountains; Puget Sound; the San Juan Islands; moss covered, lush green forests; waterfalls; and more. Really, that is where I live. It is truly a pinch-me-is-this-real place. For those of you in other parts of the country, who watch Grey’s Anatomy or The Killing, and think you know what the Seattle area looks like, it does not rain buckets every day, as it does on those programs. Yes, it rains here more than some places, but less than others. We can have some real wet spells for sure. However, for the most part we live with gray most of the winter, and a rain that can only be called mist most of the time. It rarely pours. When the sun shines here (much of the summer and fall, parts of spring and most afternoons, just before sun set), there is no place more spectacular, I believe. There is almost nothing I would change about it… almost.
This week, I’m on vacation with my family (including our exchange students, China and Denmark) in sunny Florida. So far, we’ve woken to bright sunshine every day. Temperatures have been in the 80s, with only an occasional, lone cloud in the sky. And, I have to say: I like it. For the record (that infamous record book that I keep somewhere), I am not one of those people who complains about the weather at home. There are certainly days when the gray gets to me; when I wish it was dry out, but overall, I appreciate the sun we have and love the green that all that mist brings. We get to enjoy lots of green gardens, flowers all year, and lots of color. Still, each day in Florida, as I’ve headed out to the pool to read the news, sat by the pool or the beach, or just found myself woken to bright light in the morning, I’ve thought: This is really nice. I could get used to a little more sun. (My feet and I could get used to this view; at the beach on Florida ^^)
The truth is, if we had more of this at home I probably wouldn’t need to take my daily dose of Vitamin D supplements. If we had a little more sunshine, the moss might not grow as lush, but we’d be outside a little more. I notice that I wake up feeling a lot more energetic here, and I am guessing the sun plays into that. At home, the gray days tend to push me toward a big cozy chair, a good (decaff) latte and a book. Here, the sun pushes me to take a walk, jog in the pool, or get outside. The sun here makes the day seem more promising somehow. Let’s play golf; let’s play tennis; how about a walk? (Ok, so admittedly, I swear too much for golf and can’t play tennis; but I walk.) I don’t seem to munch as much either, here in the sunshine state. Vanity: putting on a bathing suit tends to encourage self-restraint. Walking at night feels so nice, when the air is warm and the breeze is gentle. It’s nice to walk around after dinner, when a fleece or down jacket isn’t involved. It is so nice to feel light fabrics against my skin, and not need to layer. I have to admit, this weather could be easy to get used to.
The reality however, is that I am not a big fan of Florida itself. While I love our walks in the Everglades, and the site of the turquoise Atlantic, I’m not a fan of the miles of malls and concrete that surround them. Every corner has another strip/mini mall. The roads are four lanes wide, or more; the traffic endless. The sun that seems so beautiful from a beach or pool chair, is blinding off the endless, white cement. When we run into the grocery store, the car is 150 degrees when we return. Seriously, 150. I can’t help but think that I’m grateful there are few gates (as in gated communities) where I live. People pull up to your home and knock on your door; there’s no stopping at a gate to be ushered in. At home, we walk across a lawn or pathway with little concern for fire ants. Our slugs don’t bite. Here, I walk with my head down, afraid to disturb one of the many sandy mounds that would lead to painful bites, on my flip flop feet. At home, if it’s hot and there’s a pond or lake, I can jump in without worrying about being eaten. Eaten. Today, while coming back from her bridge game, dad’s partner, R, found an alligator blocking the pathway. She turned her golf cart around and got help from the guard (at the gate). I can’t deny that every time we drive by a canal or waterway here, I glance across the beautiful water and wonder what’s in there. Back home, I have to watch out for the deer that eat my garden down to nubs, or occasionally find themselves trapped inside our fenced back yard, but alligators are not on my list of concerns. I just prefer not to have to even think about prehistoric reptiles, that can’t distinguish me from a large fish. It doesn’t make canoeing seem as fun, as it is at home. As much as I’d like to be more reasonable, these things flicker through my thoughts, and can’t deny: I’m not a fan of Florida. (China, spotting his first gator. A baby, but not the cute kind.^^)
At home, there are recycling bins everywhere. We live in a town that prides itself on being 99% green, for all downtown businesses. When I say “No bag please,” they don’t look at me funny at the store; they say: “Great! Thanks.” Here, it seems that every two items are thrown in a separate, plastic, bag. I caught Smart Guy re-bagging our items the other day, each time the cashier turned to pick up another item. Plastic bags have been “outlawed” at home, and will soon be removed from our stores. No matter how many guests at home, it is very unusual for us to pull out plastic cups or flatware, and I never use styrofoam. People go out of their way to recycle, compost and re-use. One could argue that it is nearly fanatical. Here, the opposite is true. I have not seen a recycling bin yet, except at my father in law’s home.
There are lots of wonderful memories of trips to Florida over the years. My mother lived on the West Coast, in Naples, for years and my father and mother in law moved down here about fifteen years ago. Before that, we had Smart Guy’s grandmother to visit, and my family; I’ve been coming here since I was a Junior in High School. We have favorite places, numerous people we love, here. It is like a second home, in many respects. My nieces and nephews are here, my brother, father in law and his love; it is a wonderful place to visit. However, when I get back on the plane at the end of a week, my heart beats faster at the idea of returning home, to the place I love so much. I may soak in a few extra rays to store up for the gray at home, but I won’t miss Florida in the summer. I won’t miss the things that just go against everything I practice at home. I don’t miss the cement and sprawl. If I could only bottle up a little of the sun, a few extra ounces of the people I love, and take it all with me, I’d pretty much have heaven on earth. Since I can’t, I’ll enjoy it while I have it and then return to my green and gray paradise. This week, I’m walking on sunshine, and it feels good! (This is what makes my heart sing: home sweet home.–>)