I’ve been in the Sunshine State for a few weeks now, escaping the polar vortex that’s vexed much of the Midwest and Northeast United States with bone-chilling winds and cold, and largely enjoyed the blue sky, no wind and warmth of Southern Florida. Without the warm weather though, the place is less enjoyable. Unless you’re into drinking a lot of alcohol and like to shop.
The state is flat. The highest point is 345 feet above sea level. George Carlin said about Florida that “Everything is in the eighties. The ages. The temperatures. The IQs.” Hahaha!
In January the weather has hit 82, whereas in Franklin, MA, it was 28. For someone who is cold much of the time, this is a real draw. My hands and feet are often cold. And though one still can not shake the tagline: Florida, “G-d’s Waiting Room”, I believe I could still find opportunities to volunteer and participate in the arts here too.
We’ve been talking about where to live at retirement age for over five years, before retired, and my wife and I continue to debate it. The problem is simple: for at least six months of the year, if we lived in Southern Florida, the humidity reaches 95% or more. The humidity is as intolerable as the cold and snow of New England. How can this be the good life when you can’t walk or hike or play tennis or golf because of unbelievable humidity. And then there are alligators; don’t get me started on the alligators.
But one can live in a 1400 sq foot residence, in a nice Florida community, for less than half the cost of a 1800 sq foot Massachusetts residence …. so maybe the solution is to do just that, live in Florida for six months plus one day per year (qualifying for no income tax), and live in a bucolic Rhode Island community like Narragansett or Charlestown or South Kingston, the other half of the year. It’s a resort community but it’s an entirely different pace. A nice provincial community, 30 minutes to our beloved Providence, while maintaining friendships with friends in Massachusetts whom I’ve known for forty years. Now, that’s the good life.
On Sunday, Jan 20, down the street from where we’re staying in Parrot Cove, the historic cottages neighborhood of Lake Worth, I attended an Arts event at St Andrews Church, featuring the Core Ensemble consisting of Ju Young Lee on cello, Mikael Darmanie on piano, Michael Parola playing percussion with acting by Dracyn Blount, on behalf of the Martin Luther King Beloved Community of Lake Worth. The Harlem Renaissance celebration featured poetry of Langston Hughes and the music of Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus and Jelly Roll Morton. I thought of how my dad who played saxophone and would have loved the jazz music of these performers. I thought of the book “Mudbound” which I was reading, and reflected on the racism that still occurs in America, and how President Pinocchio has done nothing to unite our country, and bridge the gap between the different Americas. Except Lake Worth seems to be at one with itself, with blacks and whites in harmony, respectful of each other, at this performance and in the community.
Lake Worth is pretty well situated. A quick 5 minute walk over the Intercoastal Bridge brings me to the beach and walkways. There’s also a municipal golf course 3 minutes away and a number of restaurants within a short walking distance. Palm Beach and West Palm Beach are nearby and Delray and Boynton Beach are a hop, skip and a jump away.
One other impression I will address. While in Florida, I have finally been able to learn a bit about trees and their impact on our lives. The banyan tree, a plant that grows on another plant, by germinating in a crack or crevice of a host tree or edifice, “ficus benghalensis”, is native to India, but also is plentiful in Florida. Up to 25 meters tall, it has the widest canopy of all trees and many cottages and residences in Lake Worth have them in their lots. Drawing it is a challenge because of the number of roots and bands that make it what it is, I even sketched a few of them, first in Boca Raton, and then in Lake Worth too. The banyan represents eternal life.