Winter Is A Challenge For Displaced Floridians


It is fall, and I am north of the Mason-Dixon Line, where fall should be celebrated. In November, the leaves are beautiful; the air is crisp and wild turkeys are running alongside the road.

Of course, that’s early November. By late November, there’s nothing left of the fall leaves except an immense raking job, the air turns frightfully cold overnight and the best wild turkey still around is a Kentucky bourbon.

What the heck happened? One minute I was reveling in the beauty of it all, and the next minute I was cautioning Mark not to get out of bed because the floor would be too cold for him.

Being north of the Mason-Dixon is not where Mark wants to be. He was raised in Atlanta, and he moved to Florida the minute he reached adulthood.

“I was doing carpentry work on the roof of a Burger King, and there were snowflakes falling from the sky,” he complained. “The next day, I packed up and moved south.”

I, however, was raised in Wisconsin — a state many think to be a part of Canada — where there are nine months of winter. Being here in Missouri is like springtime in Wisconsin to me. I mean, today it’s a balmy 32 degrees!

My challenge for this morning is to think up something Mark would like to do. Every day, he asks me what our agenda holds. At first, this annoyed me. What was I, the cruise director?

Then I thought, who better to direct this cruise than me? I have fun all the time! So I started simple with things like, “We’re going to the grocery store.” Now I’ve progressed to, “We’re packing the trailer for Florida!” Once I get my confidence level up, I’ll be planning day trips to Chicago, two-day trips to Colorado and week-long jaunts to Las Vegas. From there, it’ll be cruises, month-long stays in European villas and the building of treehouses for each and every grandchild.

Mark never complains. If I tell him we’re taking a truckload of trash to the dump, he’s up for it. That’s because I am evidently an excellent cruise director. I plan any excursion to start with a wholesome breakfast — that is, any breakfast not cooked by me. Mark loves to cook but, if he’s not in the mood, there’s always Cheerios.

We do something energetic in the morning, then we start looking for a good restaurant for lunch. As we start to lose steam in the afternoon, we wind down with TV or a good book and, of course, delicious snacks. Sometimes we eat dinner but, if I’ve done the snack thing right, we don’t have to.

Here’s what I hate: staying in the house. Here’s what Mark likes: driving. Perfect!

But when the weather is too cold for him (I have determined this to be anything under 60 degrees), I have to get the car warmed up first. I have it chugging away in the driveway just outside the front door, and then I rush him into it before he realizes what’s happening. Inside, it’s warm and toasty and there’s a mug of hot coffee awaiting in his cup holder.

Today’s agenda: wholesome breakfast, trip to art museum, lunch at Cheddar’s and two episodes of Judge Judy, followed by a snack. Well, it works for us.