Last week I took the chicken out to thaw. And the ribs. I cooked everything in the freezer, then I took down the pictures and began packing up the house. The Sims family is headed to Virginia.
Spending a year in south Florida has been like having a long beach vacation. Imagine after almost a decade in the northeast, having thirteen months without winter! And here's a fact for you: South Florida winter is warmer than Vermont spring. I dressed Hope in only a sleeper in January, but years ago had to bundle Dorothy up when it was May in Vermont. The things you learn from living different places.
New opportunity awaits us in Virginia, but before we make our exit, I tweaked the Sims' family birthday tradition a bit. Instead of "What I Like About You" it's "What I Like About Florida."
The Captain said the beach was his favorite thing. He liked it best when the kids and I came along, but he often went alone for a solitary sunrise. Ever the romantic, he always, always found a "shell of the day" for me. In Vermont it was "leaf of the day" and NY was "wildflower of the day". Husbands, watch and learn.
When I asked Mom Dot what is her favorite thing about Florida, she said, "The road that leads out of here." No offense, Floridians, she just doesn't like the heat. Virginia, I think, will be more to her preference. "Florida has the most beautiful sky of anywhere I have ever seen," she added. I agree. There is just something intriguing about those clouds.
Mary said she has learned so much about herself and life--eighth grade was a hard year to move. And she won't brag on herself, but we have discovered that she is beast (to borrow a term from Ben) in the pool--third fastest girl on the swim team and only a freshman. "She needs to be swimming," her coach said to me when I stopped to thank her for helping Mary find her niche. Her dad has already found a team.
Emma is my nature girl (and one of the best cooks I know, but that's a blog for another day). She likes the "crazy animals and plants". With grasshoppers the size of small birds, leapin' lizards darting across your path, and birds as tall as her brother, Silas, it is a nature lover's paradise. And Emma has the pictures to prove it.
Ben said he liked the people. And since Ben is about to attend his third high school in three years, I am glad Ben likes people--and people like Ben. He will do well anywhere you move, folks often say. I agree, but I know I have to be careful not to leave him on auto-pilot. And I would add to anyone who has one or more low-maintenance kids, be sure and keep your finger on their emotional pulse. Never stop paying attention.
As for me, I would say the same thing I say every time we move: the friends I've made. It didn't happen right away, but as our year in Florida unfolded, I made friendships as deep as the Atlantic. The folks that surprised us with everything from dinner to donuts this week, that helped us pack and clean on loading day, that had Silas over to play when he seemed a little lost watching the furniture go onto the truck. Friends that hugged my neck at church Sunday morning and rang my doorbell all weekend to tell us how much they would miss our family. Mom Dot says I have a gift for friendship, but I tell her I am just needy that way.
As soon as Hurricane Issac simmers down, our caravan will once again hit the road. And while I can't take the beach with me, or the south Florida sky, I know I will take along the friends I've made.
And that's what I like about Florida.