• Lorraine A. Lee

Overwintering in Florida

As I watered the plants that are overwintering in the family room and kitchen, it reminded of how that merely means 'keeping them inside for 8 months until it's nice enough outside on the deck or in the garden to move them for a few short weeks to see the sun. They must be feeling like I do in their pots under artificial lights. "How much longer till we can go outdoors?! It's boring in here, sitting and waiting to get moving, feeling the sun on our leaves and being moved by the breeze". "Just a little while longer" , I tell them. We 'sprung ahead' today on our clocks and lost an hour. Only 7 days until Spring but there's snow on the ground and it was 20 degrees yesterday. Tuesday and Wednesday we're expected several inches more...

So my dream of sunshine and blue skies and the warmth of relaxed, friendly people around me came true, even if only for a few days. I felt at home on the Northeast coast of Florida while leaving behind the cold, grey days of Massachusetts. I watered and fertilized and misted my housebound plants and flew three hours to a place I didn't want to leave.

The river with trees and plants growing alongside it was narrow and all of a sudden, the Gulf of Mexico appeared from the motorboat we were in and in front of us, there was nothing but water on the horizon. Birds including an eagle were flying everywhere fishing and manatees called this place their Winter home. Being close to the Deep South and lacking in tourist attractions, the people were a combination of natives from the area and Southerners who frequently come down for weekend getaways. Music was everywhere - with the sounds of nature.

How I've missed seeing palm trees. When I was 17 and moved with my family to California, they were a novelty to see but as the years and decades rolled by, I eventually didn't even notice them anymore. Now they are like old friends to me I visit with on a rare occasion. I am so happy to see them again.

So much wildlife on the river. The trees are covered with Spanish moss, something I remember from going to North Carolina at about age 5 for a couple of days. It's a hallmark of the South and homey looking, hanging quietly from branches swaying in the breeze. The moss used to be exported to Spain for stuffing upholstery. I missed the colors of nature-pink, hundreds of shades of green and blue.

Pelicans waited on the docks for fish from the fisherman to eat. At about 6:00 the music began to play, a combination of jazz, blues, country. The Spanish moss blowing in the wind.

Only God knows if I will always live in New England but I've learned a new appreciation for sunshine! People need it just like plants. I wanted to bottle it up and bring it home with me but only a week until Spring! At least that's what they say...

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