The Sunshine State is living up to its name. Well, yes, we did have a downpour on Saturday night and there have been one or two short showers since, but that was very welcome rain. Now we are sweltering again, and grateful for the breezes that sway the palm trees and make air-conditioning unnecessary in this house.
My flight here was uneventful, but on arrival I found my luggage had been left behind somewhere. I came from snowy Switzerland wearing jeans and a cotton sweater, but those were too warm to wear here in Florida. My practical friend whose holiday home I’m sharing goes everywhere by bike on the island, and so has no car. She called an angel in disguise who came over early the day after I got here and drove us to an upmarket thrift store, where everything was being sold at half price.
I acquired a complete new wardrobe – shirts, shorts, tops, a tankini and underwear – for only $26! My friend takes the same size in shoes as I do, so I was able to borrow sandals and crocs from her. By the time my suitcase did arrive, two days after me, I had been to this special boutique several times and could almost have managed without anything I had packed. Guardian angels working overtime!
Stupidly, I had packed my medication in my suitcase, something I hardly ever do, but mercifully I had a prescription on my laptop that my GP had sent me. Alas, American pharmacies refuse to fill prescriptions from foreign physicians but then it turned out that another friend of my hostess is on the same dose of thyroxin as I am, so even if my luggage had been completely lost, I would have been able to borrow from her. As it was, I only missed one day.
My energy levels were boosted by all this excitement and I realised that if I’m to get out of the house at all, I need to learn to ride the tricycle that my kind friend has bought for my use here. Why not a bike? Because she knows that I am a public danger on the roads on a bike, so thought a trike would be better for me.
I was sceptical, and it did take a bit of practice, as you need different skills to ride a trike, but once the saddle had been adjusted to a comfortable position for me, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. I did a 10km ride the next day, and have been happily pedalling around ever since.
My little chariot has a basket on the back, so I can transport groceries etc. as well as the stuff I need on the beach. And though it would probably take me half an hour to walk to the beach, on my tricycle it’s only about 10 minutes. Of course, the island is flat which also makes it easier. I don’t know how I would cope in more undulating country, but there are beautiful bike paths alongside the busier roads, and so little traffic on the side roads that I feel quite safe. trundling along there.
Where we live is near the 19th hole of the golf course, where there is a convenient swimming pool – my friend is an associate member, which allows her to take me along too. The landscaping is very pretty, and a haven for wild life. We were woken this morning by an alligator in rut, dancing around in the little lake and bellowing his serenade to any female within twenty miles.
In contrast, I have also seen a dainty little rabbit mama with her baby grazing at the water’s edge, and an osprey flailing its wings in a kind of breast-stroke as it swam through the water. First impression: that bird is in trouble and about to drown. When he came ashore, we saw he had a trophy fish too big to transport any other way. He certainly couldn’t have flown with it. A pelican that settled himself down in roughly the same spot a day or two later was driven away from this particular territory by two large crows dive-bombing him persistently. And we have a steady sequence of herons, ibis, egrets and many other natives to observe.
I’ve also had the pleasure of attending a Blue Grass concert, and a dog’s birthday party – the latter is one of those “only in America!” events, where the guest dogs appeared in fancy dress.
It certainly looks as if I’ve joined the Lotos-Eaters!