The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
It was the end of March. According to the calendar, spring had arrived. Trembling, we crawled out of our snow-bound cave and turned our eyes to the heavens. Sun, hast thou forsaken us? Whither the crocuses and daffodils, the freshets, the elderflower blossoms?
Time for a change of scenery. We put the summer tires on, filled up with gas at Borden, and headed south to visit friends from the Cove who spend the winter in Lake Worth, Florida.
Florida is far away. 3000 kilometers away. We drove through Maine (snowy and cold), New Hampshire (old mill towns), Massachusetts (plenty of snow), Connecticut (nothing blooming), and on to New York (snowing) where we spent a few days with family. Boldly leaving winter boots and jackets behind, we crossed the stately Hudson River into New Jersey (crazy traffic), through Pennsylvania (big trucks, dead deer on roadside), Maryland (expensive tolls, first daffodils), Virginia (huge country estates), and North Carolina (green leaves!). It started to get warm in the middle of South Carolina (grocery stores selling interesting pig parts), even warmer in Georgia (Civil War mementos, gas $1.93/gal.), and finally (palm trees and oranges) we crossed St. Mary’s River into Florida.
In St. Augustine (earliest European settlement in North America) we had our first experience of fully-developed tourism, with old motels from another era, open-air tour trains, and peacocks roaming Ponce de Léon’s “Fountain of Youth.”
Near Cape Canaveral we stopped at Turtle Mound, a man-made 50-foot high hillock of oyster shells used as a lookout by native people 1000 years ago. The drive to this site paralleled an Atlantic shoreline that was hidden behind an astonishing array of pastel-colored housing developments.
Finally, Lake Worth and the comfort of our friends’ air-conditioned condo. Home-cooking, a swim in the pool, sauna and late night drink really set us up. So this is what it’s all about. Next day we put up a tent in the municipal park and joined hundreds of Canadians who, in winter, call this location home. Most of these people are from Québec. They live in elaborate motor homes with every mod con, and man, are they happy! They have their own newspaper, own radio station, and friends living next door.
The secret is the friends. Florida is a social destination. The weather is fantastic (except for humidity and hurricanes), but it’s the camaraderie that keeps people coming back. Our friends treated us like royalty. We met their friends. We sang, biked around the park, saw alligators and pelicans, toured a park in the Everglades, got bitten by Florida black flies, drank big American beer, waited at traffic lights… and all too soon it was time to head home, different route this time, just as far.
It sure feels good to get back to our own community. Everything is near-by, small, friendly. We have fresh air, empty spaces, silence. And we’ll even have crocuses and daffodils, one of these days.