A strange thing is happening as we are preparing to head north, as we always do about the middle of April. This year Jim made the proclamation that we weren’t going north until the end of April. He is tired of my eagerness to get “home,” wanting to leave around the 15th – and then complaining that it is still cold in Michigan in April. We are staying a week longer and spending a long week-end with our daughter in North Carolina before completing our snow-bird journey. The strange thing that is happening is that I’m not ready to leave Florida. I finally felt like I was here and enjoying myself as I was walking across the parking lot towards the pool a couple of weeks ago. It was a jolt of awakening to my surroundings and a voice in my head saying how nice it is to be here. The first three months weren’t easy as Jim and I worked together to deal with his double vision and severe fatigue as a result Myasthenia Gravis. We have lived and loved together for so long that what happens to one, happens to the other.
The zinnias in the Idea Garden at the Naples Botanical Garden have started me thinking about my northern garden. I have a space where I plant zinnias for some late summer and fall color. The past few years I have planted seeds, then waited and waited for the first blossoms. When I visited the Botanical Garden here in Florida in January the zinnias were just starting to bloom and then a couple of cool months later I noticed they had pulled them all out and the next week they planted another batch of seedlings. I was amazed when they were blooming a couple of weeks later. This year I’m going to buy seedlings to speed things up in my cooler northern garden, but will also be realistic that they won’t bloom as quickly as in hot southern Florida.
We have five more days before we head north so we are eating up what is in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry. I think I can put together some meals that aren’t too weird with the help of the neighborhood grocer with a great fish counter and a deli with really good salads. I’ve been thinking of making a batch of molasses cookies but will need to barter with a neighbor for some butter, maybe for a dozen cookies. On the subject of cooking, I am really looking forward to going north to my new gas range. The one here is electric and even after using electric cook-tops for over 10 years in Michigan and Florida I haven’t learned to regulate the heat so I don’t burn grilled sandwiches. Two grilled sandwiches always take six slices of buttered bread – four to eat and two for the garbage.
I was so enjoying being more relaxed about Covid during our winter months here in Florida. We were spending time with friends at the pool and in our homes, going to very early suppers (late lunch?) at restaurants with outdoor seating, and even forgetting to put masks on when going into grocery stores. These activities felt like getting back to normal. We felt well protected with transmission rates falling and having been vaccinated and boosted. Then four of our friends in our condo association got sick a week ago and tested positive for Covid. I had played in a Rummy Cube tournament at the pool with two of them a week ago Saturday so I could have been infected. Amazing how quickly we put the defenses in gear and also rallied round to make sure friends had tests and people who were sick had enough food and weren’t getting so sick that they needed medical help. Fear moved into our home again as we worried about sick friends who had serious heart problems, and friends who didn’t want to get sick because they had plans to see a 9-month pregnant granddaughter on Easter. And of course we have felt some anxiety about whether Covid would disrupt our schedule for going back to Michigan. We are well stocked with rapid tests so we will make sure we test negative before we leave on Thursday and maybe again before we get to our daughter’s home on Friday.
We are going to take less stuff back and forth this year (said in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021). We both thought we did a good job of bringing less when we drove down last October. We mostly have full wardrobes in both places and have coffee makers and sewing machines and household tools for both homes. As I am starting to put things on the guest beds, I’m wondering why I feel so overwhelmed with packing to go home this time. Maybe it’s because I’m a year older and both of us are having trouble with fatigue. Maybe it is because we are taking some things north for our children. Maybe it is because we are taking almost a week to go home instead of three days, making a stop at our daughter’s home in North Carolina. I think we are doing okay – I just have those week-before-we-leave jitters because I know what needs to be packed but can’t pack because we are still living here for a few days. I have this constantly running brain loop of things I want to remember to take home. Instead of getting ahead of myself like that, I think I’ll just putter around and take a deep breath. I’ve packed for various kinds of trips for too many years to get cocky-jawed about it now.
As I am finishing up this post I am smiling. Although it is snowing in Michigan today I am looking forward to being in my northern home, seeing northern family and friends, and experiencing a northern Spring. Today I have tasks to do and things to pack. And we have an exciting trip north planned this year.