Posted in Florida Fun, Randomness

Florida weather

20131207_071013When we first moved to Florida nearly three years ago this September, we were just heading into the best of the seasons. Late fall through early summer here in northeast Florida consists of sunny skies, some sweater weather, few bugs, and the rare shower in the evening. We sleep with the windows open listening to the cacophony of noise from the forest behind us and wake up to the quiet.

Even though spring in Michigan means winter might finally be over, it is typically slow in arriving with showers, dampness, puddles and mud. Spring here in Florida means a gradual warming with even more time bike riding, walking, or enjoying meals outside and sun-sun-sun! Granted, summer here is hot and humid once we get into July and August, but like Thom says, it’s our ‘winter’ where we do outdoor chores in the early morning and then move indoors to stay cool and comfortable. Thankfully we have the beach close by where the water warms up to the 80’s, and walking into the surf is as refreshing and as wonderful as it can be. But our ‘winter’ also means rainy season, and if you like storms like I do (thanks, Grampa B),you’ll love the rainy season.

I love the colors of the sky as the wall of clouds move in. I love hearing the thunder in the distance and watching the far off light show moving quickly towards us. I love the weirdness of it when it’ll be raining in the front yard but not in the back yard…at least not yet. And then it’s overhead and all around us, and the lightening and thunder and drenching buckets of rain surround us, and I’ll sit on the lanai as long as I can, watching an opening way, way up in the trees behind us, jumping at the claps of thunder that arrive so quickly after the flash of lightening.

The ocean changes with the weather; something that should be obvious but wasn’t to me. When it’s windy, the water 1-P1010176-002is typically choppy and frothy, with large breakers and high rip current. If there’s little wind, the Atlantic is calm and quiet. The pelicans come in trails, soaring low to fly against the calm water, sometimes coming so close you could reach out and feel the breeze as they pass.

I can’t decide what I like best: The calm, clear water where I can just rest on my board watching for dolphins and pelicans without fighting the breakers and the current while soaking up the sunshine, or the hot, unexpected days of the rainy season with the amazing storms, the breathtaking skies, the violent ocean. I guess I love it all.


Posted in Family & Friends

He was a Yankee Doodle Dandy!

2713Fourth of July is so bittersweet nowadays. At 61 years of age, I have lots of them to look back on, but by far the strongest memory for me, and I’m sure for all my 10 siblings and various cousins, is 4th of July at my grandparents’ cottage. As far back as I can remember, my dad has led a parade of children across the lawn and around the house, marching to the music of George M. Cohen pounded out on the piano by my Aunt Binnie. What started in the 1950’s as a cute idea for a handful of children — “Hey, how about a little parade with the kids?!” — has grown over the years to a tradition that spans generations.

“You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Over There.”  We learned these songs as youngsters and sang them heartily, marching in a line kept straight by a string of gas station flags. Oldest to youngest, growing in number every year, we would imitate dad as he sang and zig-zagged around the huge lawn, kicking up his leg here and there, yelling, “Tighten up that line!”  Down the stone steps (“Slow down!”) and along the shore of Lake Huron, the neighbors would pile out of their homes to watch us, singing and clapping along.2546

Of course, as we grew older, we were embarrassed by the show. “What would people think? We’re too old for this now. I’ll just watch.”  No way. There was no sitting out, and if you brought a friend along, they were in, too. And so year after year, the tradition continued. With the oldest directly behind dad and the youngest often on an adult’s shoulders, the parade went on, sometimes nearly 30 of us in tow, singing, laughing, kicking up our legs,and just being silly, following the silliest of them all.

Our last 4th of July parade was held at my little cottage in Gaylord, but this time, dad was sitting it out. He had suffered a stroke the year before that left him unable to walk. But that didn’t stop him from singing the old songs, watching as his grown kids, his grandkids and even some great-grandkids marched alongside the deck for his review. “Tighten up that line!” we heard, as everyone lined up to pledge allegiance to the flag. I think many of us knew it would be our last parade with dad. I keep that picture in my heart and in my mind, but the melancholy it causes fades as I recall the wonderful memories of my youth, number 8 in line behind my sister and in front of my cousin, holding tight to the rope and waving our flags, singing and laughing as our parade leader set the tone and marched on.