Tag Archives: seasons

Travel Tuesday: Beach chronicle

When you can’t enjoy baseball, go to the beach.

My Beloved and I escaped the dark and cold days of pre-Christmas in the northern hinterlands by making a getaway to Fort Myers Beach.

While lolling around with an unobstructed view of endless sand and sea, we counted how many times we had been to Florida over the years. There was the year of the teepee condo. The time we drove the ol’ 1983 Pace Arrow around the Gulf. Three times in the past decade, he won a trip to Florida for selling lots of insurance. The time we mingled with, shall we say, an interesting crowd in South Miami Beach before a cruise. Spent a winter in the Keys and the 10,000 Islands areas in another RV. Other visits, too. We’ve visited so often they tend to run together now.

Florida is a go-to destination for Disney World and Minnesota Twins spring training baseball, mostly, but also we conduct a little business there. If it’s March, we end up in Fort Myers to root for home runs and consume hot dogs, but last week, it was December and there was no baseball to be found. So for the first time in all the years we’ve visited Florida, we stayed in Fort Myers Beach.

In March, Fort Myers Beach is clogged with sun worshipers and spring break revelers. With one primary road running through the island, there is little escape from the traffic and lack of parking. It’s a hot destination—hot as in hoppin’ and hot as in, well, hot—but it’s not relaxing.

In December, Fort Myers Beach is a different place. Sunny but not hot. Not crowded either. Laid back. Kind of a nice break from house reconstruction and, um, snow.

endless sand

Endless sand.

shell booty

Some of my shell booty.

My Beloved found us a VRBO (vacation rental by owner) on the south end of Fort Myers Beach. The beach is extra wide there, and every morning the tide washes in a new crop of sea shells. Across big Carlos Pass, we could see Lovers Key from our deck.

I’ve lamented in the past about the lack of interesting dining options in Fort Myers (Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, where I enjoyed what was quite possibly the best tropical salad with shrimp in my life, is an exception and it turns out it is technically on Fort Myers Beach, not in Fort Myers), but being on the south end of Fort Meyers Beach, we were actually closer to Bonita Springs, where we found crab Eggs Benedict at The Garden Cafe where, soft-shell Pad Thai at Komoon Thai Sushi Ceviche, and loaded Bloody Marys and grouper bites at Coconut Jacks Waterfront Grille. A Midwesterner can appreciate some of the country’s finest sea food, as it should be on the coast.

sunset

Among the most memorable events in Florida are the beginnings and ends of days. On the east coast, it is the sunrises. On the west coast, it’s the sunsets. (In the Keys, you can get both.) On Fort Myers Beach last week, we watched the sun disappear over the horizon with a cocktail in hand most days. One can’t hurry a sunset. Or make it wait. It’s a daily reminder of time passing and you best savor it when you can.

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Stop and gaze upon the roses

 

horizontal red roses

Stop and smell the lilacs, that’s a maxim I could get behind. The scent of lilacs blooming in May is both fleeting and intoxicating.

Roses, I have found, are not very fragrant, making the phrase “stop and smell the roses” not only cliché but also misleading. But still, roses in bloom have a way of stopping one in one’s tracks, they are so handsome.

Napa cookie cutter campgroundI captured the image above a couple of weeks ago when we were staying at the Napa Valley Expo, a neat and proper sort of RV park where every lot is exactly the same size, lined up on a perfectly asphalted street. The effect is rather hypnotic, particularly when one walks her dog along the same route every time, four times a day.

Then I wake up in the morning, answering puppy’s call to nature, and notice the dew on the roses.

dewy-red-rose.jpg

It’s all I can do not to break out in my Stevie Wonder voice, “Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she Won. Der. Ful? Isn’t she precious?”

A fanciful row of rose bushes line the main thoroughfare in the park, and I get to gaze upon them whenever I walk the dog or do the laundry. These dewy images were taken a couple of weeks ago, when most of the blooms were only buds, just waking up to spring’s welcome. Unfortunately for us visitors, it rained most of a week, but April’s showers left such perfect droplets on the roses, one might think an artist was painting circular little globs of clear lacquer on every upward surface.

red bud

We answered Wanderlust‘s call to fly home for some business (and pleasure), and then returned “home,” to our little RV in Napa Valley. The rain is gone, and the roses, still standing guard on the thoroughfare, are almost spent. We’ll be moving on soon enough, but today we’re here, and the roses demand attention.

rose bush

This morning’s wide open blossoms.

Yellow, golden, amber autumn

fall-day

What a beautiful day.

It’s Nov. 5, which means it could be cold, windy and raining. Or snowing. It could be snowing.

But it’s not. It was a sun-soaked day in which the temperatures in northern Illinois reached the upper 60s.

Here’s the view from my back deck overlooking the back yard and the nature preserve beyond my fence just before sunset. I swear I heard crackling in the underbrush while I was clicking away; deer have been known to bound through (maybe even live in?) the tree-filled water retention area back there. It’s not a good time of year for deer, but I certainly appreciated the lovely autumn day.

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.

~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

OK, so I didn’t spend the day outdoors, but my Beloved left open the screen door to the deck. I could hear barking dogs and honking geese while I chopped and cooked ingredients for not one but two pots of soup. Normally, soup is perfect for warming up during a quiet Saturday night in November. Well, it’s perfect on a warm autumn night, too.

And the best part? Looks like it will be similarly beautiful tomorrow. And we’ll all have an extra hour to enjoy it! Don’t forget to fall back!

Clematis memories

clamatis wide shot

My Beloved planted this clematis a couple of years ago because it reminded him of his grandfather.

I never met his mother’s father, but he sounds like he filled a room with his personality. Among his talents, apparently, was gardening. Tyler remembers his grandfather’s clematis growing on a trellis in the back yard. Technically, this one is in our side yard, but when it started blooming so beautifully this week, my Beloved relished good memories. I’m sharing so you can appreciate its beauty.

clamatis close up

‘Tis the season


Nothing like a pedicure to smooth the rough edges of a rough day.

The little snowmen that had been decorating my Beloved’s big toes since Christmas Eve (and slowly melting away) were smeared off like so much nail polish remover. For me, I adopted a smart coral to match the straps of a new pair of sandals.

The nail salon on a late Friday afternoon was a madhouse. It is the Friday before Mother’s Day after all.

But I digress. It’s the way a pedicure turns a pair of dry ragged feet into something pretty and show-off worthy that I appreciate the most about a trip to the nail salon. 

Transformation.

Like spring into summer.

Admiration for the lovely tulip

Tulip neighbor

Their season is short but their days are filled with glory.

I admire the neighborhood tulips every spring. I’m always astonished at how gardeners plan ahead. And trust! They trust those dirty bulbs will erupt some months later with loveliness. I soak in the unique beauty of every color. Red, of course …

tulip red closeup

Yummy yellow …

tulip yellow closeup

What a maroon!

tulip burgundy

Pretty purple …

tulip purple closeup

And variegated varieties …

tulip verigated purple

And I appreciate them in every form. A single bloom …

tulip single

In a bed …

tulips in a bed

In a circle …

tulips in a circle

And in a row …

tulips in a row

They don’t last long, and I’ve learned they malinger, rather than linger, when they’re cut and brought in the house. Don’t harvest the mighty tulip but take in its magnificence.

Spring cleaning on steroids

Question: How did you spend this fine Sunday?

A. I drank too much sake with my sushi last night so I slept in and spent the day dozing on the couch while binge-watching Chopped.

B. I read the Sunday paper cover to cover and spent the afternoon working on the crossword puzzle while half-listening to the baseball game.

C. I went to church and spent the afternoon shopping for potted plants to hang in my porch. When I got home, I discovered a May Day basket hanging from my front door knob.

D. I moved every last winter coat, used tennis shoe, spaghetti noodle, kibble of dog food and bottle of laundry detergent out of the pantry, swept the room three times, scrubbed the nooks and crannies of the shelving and got on my hands and knees to clean the baseboards in preparation for an epic paint job.

Most common answer is A (because nothing says Saturday night like drinking too much). Lovely ways to spend the first day of May? B or C. But if you answered D, you’re on the same wavelength as me.

We’ve lived in this house nearly nine years, and it’s finally time to makeover the pantry.

The room comprises 128 square feet, and it’s also home to the back entryway and the laundry room. The multipurposefulness of the room contributes to a schizophrenic decorating vibe. A cute “welcome” message hanging over the door complements the cluttered food containers bursting out of their shelving. A duplicate of nearly every kitchen appliance (slow cooker, blender, hand mixer, coffee grinder — we might need them someday, after all) fights for space with tin foil, refrigerator water filters and cleaning supplies. A functional laundry center sits next to closet filled with sandals and boots, coats and jackets for every season.

One cannot fully fathom one’s tendency towards hoarding until one consolidates the contents of one’s pantry and realizes she has more than two dozen light bulbs, over 20 pounds of pasta in every shape and at least eight pair of running shoes. Nine jumbo rolls of paper towels? Check. Seven kinds and flavors of nuts? Check. Five different kinds of pancake mix (regular, buttermilk, heart-smart and two brands of gluten-free) and five types of oatmeal (old fashioned, minute, Irish, steel cut and single-serving packets)? Check and check.

Once my Beloved and I removed everything (including the washer, dryer, shelving and quarterround), the formerly crowded room looks cavernous and echoes like an empty warehouse. I replaced the 60 watt bulbs in the light fixture with 100 watt bulbs, and now every scuff, flaw and stain on the walls stands out like neon advertising reminding us why we undertook this project, which will include painting the ceiling and closet in addition to the walls and installing new flooring to replace the, ugh, linoleum.

As with every room makeover undertaken at Minnesota Transplant’s house, a paint job blossoms into so much more. We’ve already invested in baskets to spruce up the pantry shelving and we’re thinking about installing cabinets above the washer-dryer. Dad is working on a new shelf with coat hooks, and I’m going to paint the foot locker. Oh, and new rugs. Of course. Who, I ask you, puts old rugs on new flooring?

I’m exhausted as I recount this, but oddly invigorated. Nothing inspires like clearing away years of dryer lint and filling one’s trunk with items for Goodwill. Even as I slouch at my computer, I feel so much cleaner and lighter.

A perfect project for celebrating the first of May. Hope however you spent it was equally as satisfying.