It’s remarkable that my last post was just two weeks ago because so much has happened in our lives. As noted last time, we had gotten an OK to stay in the park and finish up our respective programs, even though the park had officially closed. The week of March 23, we started doing administrative stuff and began to feel like things were heading into a good direction for the interim. One week ago, we decided to look into renting a spot in one of the planned communities in the area since we decided once we left the park, we did not want to get on the road for a couple of months.
These days, a trip to the Publix Supermarket in Estero, Florida is a surreal experience with understocked shelves and the haphazard displays of the kinds of frozen pizzas that people don’t want to buy. As I attempt to find words to describe this, my memory takes me back to my days as an English major at the University of Connecticut. One of my last semesters, under the guidance of my academic advisor, Professor Blanchard, I took a nineteenth century British literature survey course. There, I regularly walked the Hogwarts-like hallways of the University’s bricks and mortar library, encountering Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, the Brontë sisters, Oscar Wilde, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, P. B. Shelley, Mary Shelley, John Keats, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, and Lewis Carroll. Continue reading
As many of you know, our life on the road has been largely unscripted. We tend to get an idea, do some research, talk to other full-timers, try something new, evaluate it, determine what we have learned and what we might want to do with the information, and then move on.
One of the most mysterious effects of being in one place for a long time is how time folds in on itself and neatly puts itself away. We’ve been in Estero, Florida for nearly five months and in that time, Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone, we witnessed what south-Florida calls the seasons – winter (temperatures in the high 40s); spring (temperatures in the mid-70s); and currently, summer (temperatures in the mid-80s). We pulled together a wedding reception for two of our fellow volunteers here at the park, complete with a cake and champagne toasts. We made a quick trip to the deep and frigid north for a wonderful family weekend, we celebrated a reunion dinner with Triangle X friends who winter here in Florida, met up with people we met on the road in Ann Arbor, and enjoyed a reunion with our first Airstream friends who met in the panhandle of Florida in 2015. We continue to delight in the company of our Koreshan State Park fellow volunteers following our official fourth anniversary living full time on the road.
Returning to Koreshan State Park in Estero, Florida on November 2 felt like a homecoming. There was much that has changed since we left the park in April (more on that later) but somehow time compresses itself in the familiar and it seems like merely weeks since we were last here.
First, news about where we are living. Our new site this year in the Volunteer Village is our favorite of all three years here. We are up against the fence which means we are closest to the very busy Tamiami Trail but the huge advantage is we have a really lovely “front yard”, a place to securely store our bicycles and no neighbors on our front door side. Plus, we are removed from the center of the very busy Village, the bathhouse, and the Rec Hall. The morning sun streams in the kitchen windows and the afternoon sun hits the back of T2, keeping things much cooler than last year when we faced straight into the afternoon sun. We are next door to some friends from last year who are easy to be around. It’s all good.
Each year, in springtime, I commit to a comprehensive T2 cleaning. It’s usually spread over a few days with Day 1 always starting with the triannual refrigerator defrosting. Perhaps it’s because it is my least favorite cleaning task and I know that once starting it, I have committed to the no-turning-back process. The best part is the ritual that ends with putting the fresh new box of baking soda in place and writing the date on the duct tape patch on the inside the refrigerator door.
I’m writing this blog on my birthday and I have been given the most exquisite of gifts: a morning of solitude in T2, our sanctuary. I’ve been reading poetry and found two snippets from poems that fit my reflection today. Stanley Kunitz, at the age of 79 mused, “Maybe it’s time for me to practice growing old. The way I look at it, I’m passing through a phase…” while Billy Collins, at the age of 70, whimsically observed, “One bright morning in a restaurant in Chicago as I waited for my eggs and toast, I opened the Tribune only to discover that I was the same age as Cheerios”. Continue reading