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One Woman's Opinion

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Florida Update

by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— Every January we pack bags, take the dogs to Jackie Willis’ wonderful kennel in Deltaville, and head south for Florida. Sometimes we fly and sometimes we drive, depending on the latest terrorist activity. This year we decided to drive after the “Christmas Bomber” so easily managed to get on an airplane bound for Detroit.

I always take time to assess which travel days might be best. I take in consideration dates and locations of football bowl games and colleges playing in them, holiday traffic and weather reports. Some years I make good choices and we sail to Florida with hardly any traffic. Other years we fight heavy traffic all the way to Naples.

One year Virginia Tech was playing in a bowl in Jacksonville the weekend we left Urbanna. Rule number one: NEVER try to drive anywhere when the ferocious Virginia Tech fans with their orange and maroon flags snapping in the wind are on the road.

The trip is 1,000 miles packaged over two hellish days. The usual routing is straight south on I-95 for South Carolina for dinner at Clarks Historic Inn  at Santee, a not to miss treat, and spending the night in a suite at the Holiday Inn in Fort Wentworth, Georgia, which is exactly 500 miles and we retire knowing we have the same hard run to Naples the next morning.

The usual plan is Chip helps me set up the computer and folderol, solves the usual glitches that absence from any home for over a year causes, stays a week, and then returns home leaving me for a few glorious weeks on my own. It is the greatest gift a man can give a wife—time alone to recharge batteries. He then flies back, disconnects my computer and folderol, solves all the glitches that is usual for a woman living alone, and we drive home to the awaiting dogs.

I live my own life completely independent of everyone. Every writer needs such a time. Most of all it is a time to reflect on the year’s work with my pen and future writing projects. It is a time to think, read, see films or plays, soak in as much art and museums as possible, attend seminars and classes at nearby Florida Gulf State University, and write free of all interruptions.

Some of this year’s books and films digested were Henry James’ “Daisy Miller,” “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Professor Azar Nafisi, “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, and “Tete a Tete,” a biography of the French existentialists and authors Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre and their close intellectual relationship.

Movies checked out of the library and enjoyed were a rerun of “Jewel in the Crown”;  “The Duchess of Duke Street”; and “Waiting for the Moon,” a film of writers Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas and Ernest Hemingway; and many more foreign films.

A highlight was hearing Bishop John Selby Spong speak. One of the foremost theologians in America, I have been in email contact with him over the years and it was a thrill to finally meet him. I watched all the football games too.

I went on my usual winter diet hoping to shed extra holiday pounds, took long walks each day to the Gulf, and lived my life closely attuned to nature. I came to await eagerly the pleasure of each evening sunset and the same egret’s “squawk” as he passed by my condo on the Gordon River.  

I dreamt, thought and wrote with the morning sun streaming into the room, in view of the sparkling water, pelicans soaring in the sky, and palm trees and bougainvillia dancing in the wind.

The news that Scott Brown was to be the new senator from Massachusetts buoyed my spirits. Talk about a Boston tea party. Perhaps he can lead this nation back to its capitalistic and Republican roots.

A new grandson born in January in West Virginia was the greatest joy of all named after my grandfather. As Father always told me, a message far removed from my natural feminist leanings, “Nothing in life beats babies, Mays.” He was so right.

But all was not perfect. Florida was cold this year for the first two weeks in January. How cold was it? So cold that the geckos dropped like rain from the palm trees and stone dead at my feet. Now that’s cold.

But I was ready with my usual Florida winter gear: a pair of woolen slacks,  thick socks, sturdy shoes, three sweaters, a lined windbreaker with a hood and a pair of gloves; appropriate January dress for Florida.  ©2010

posted 02.04.2010

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