While I Was Away…

There are times in this life when I agree to do things that surprise me; one of those things happened last summer. It all began last spring…

Throughout our adult lives, my wife and I have dealt with our responsibilities. You know how this story goes, first you are trying to get established in life, then you have parental responsibilities; later, after the kids grow up and go out on their own you might have responsibilities for aging parents, as we did. When my mother passed away a year ago at 96, right after my wife retired, we found ourselves sitting in “self-quarantine” with little to do and nowhere to go, but with the means to do most anything we wanted to do… and thinking.

We could live anywhere we want!

To make a long story short, we moved from Iowa to Florida last Fall after buying a house there in late summer.

I hate to move. My wife wants to move every 2 or 3 years. Oh yes, that’s right, she was military, and even after she got out of the Navy, she continued to work as a civilian for the military and kept the mindset of moving every few years. For some reason, I agreed to this very quickly.

From my point of view, there was a payoff, for you see all of my life I have dreamed of living in the country, but was held back by responsibilities… and the fact that I do not have the skillset for country living, having spent my life in the city. We found a place that was the best of both here in Volusia County. For one thing, we are definitely in the country, country that is full of live oaks, Spanish moss, wildlife and agriculture, mostly fern farms believe it or not. At the same time, we live in a park with mobile and manufactured housing, a nice pool area, clubhouse and work out room, and a hundred or so people, many of whom are here only in the winter.

The roads are mainly dirt, and by that I really mean sand. We live under a canopy of live oaks, we have 10 on our lot, and of course the odd palm tree, of which we have only one. When you open the windows or go out, you hear birds, not cars and trucks. Running around this area are flocks of wild turkeys and, of all things, peacocks, not to mention whole herds of lizards, and quite a few squirrels. In the evening we hear multiple varieties of owls in the trees, frogs, toads and crickets. We also have a small lake in the park that is home to at least three alligators; I’m not quite sure who thought that was a good idea. We also have periodic visits from bears, also not a great idea…

Like many homes in this part of the world, the shower is in the back yard, somewhat different than the way they do things in the city. Yet after using it daily for some months, I’d hate to go back to the other way. Well, I must admit though that the first time the neighbor lady yelled, “Good morning Don!” while I was in the shower it was a bit unnerving… even though she could only see me from the shoulders up. There’s something about being in the shower, feeling a slight morning breeze, listening to the birdsong and seeing the amazing colors of  a glorious sunrise through the tree branches that makes the routine into something very special.

There are some fairly dubious pleasures of country living, however. Phone reception isn’t very good, and sometimes isn’t even available. The internet is not reliable, and I’m told that when there is a major storm, the power can be out for weeks.

On the other hand, everyone knows everyone, and when you are out and about, people seem happy to see you and everyone has a cheerful hello. Even so, it’s an adjustment, but I think I like this place. When I really begin to question the wisdom of this move, I will just remember one thing: A week or so ago, while I was sitting out on the front porch with a cup of coffee at 5 am in shorts and a tee shirt, I checked the weather on my phone and saw that back in Iowa, the wind chill was -28 F.

I like this place!

I’ll be sharing some more of my adventures while away in the coming days, and when I finally win my battle with our new media insertion, I’ll have a little photo journey from my daily morning walk; see you then!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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7 Responses to While I Was Away…

  1. paulfg says:

    What a fabulous “adventure” to share. Just don’t get eaten or bitten or mauled on your morning walks!! 🙂

  2. Vinnie says:

    I hear you about moving. I grew up with a father who was a truck driver and we lived in N.J.; where I was born and moved I believe three times. Then we moved to CA, and relocated a couple of times there. Then we trekked back to N.J. Then we were off to Baton Rouge, LA, then off to Florida, where we moved 3 times; Temple Terrace and Tampa twice. Then, dear Lord, back to N.J. All this by the time I was 17. I have been to so many schools that I could fill a file cabinet with report cards. When I enlisted in the Navy, my parents moved twice. The Navy seemed stable compared to my youth.

  3. I had a friend who lived in the country, she had a propane powered backup generator for when the power went out. Just enough for lights, fridge, and freezer.

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