Life > Vacation

A few years ago I read this quote from Rob Hill Sr: “My goal is to build a life I don’t need a vacation from.” It really resonated with me, especially since I was in the midst of a huge life change.

After living in four states in four years (and a few months in Costa Rica), I bought a house here in St. Petersburg last September. This area of Florida has so much to offer: tons of parks and green spaces, easy access to multiple bodies of water (both salty and fresh), dozens of social and environmental nonprofits and colleges, vibrant local restaurants and merchants, and a laid-back, artsy vibe.

After years of searching, I’m grateful to have found my happy place. Where’s yours?

Night Beauty

The climate here along the Central Gulf Coast of Florida is in the humid subtropical category. As such, any number of exotic species thrive here with little or no assistance.

I am familiar with several species of night blooming cereus from the desert southwest, so it was pleasant to see these blooming in my neighbor’s yard this past June.

I have since been able to add a few cuttings of these to my yard since someone placed their unwanted trimmings out by the curb. They are thriving right now and I look forward to their nighttime show next year!

The Exception is Florida…

As you may know, I love to read. I especially enjoy devouring books about places I have lived or visited (which includes all 50 states as well as a dozen foreign countries).

My current home state of Florida is no exception, and thankfully, there are a number of prominent authors here. My dear friend, Karen also an avid reader, turned me onto Carl Hiaasen novels at least a decade ago.

His books prepared me for the oddness that is Florida which I encountered during my first trip to the Keys back in 2018. I recollect Hiaasen saying that as a columnist for the Miami Herald, he didn’t have to search hard for weird subject matter, he pulled the wild tales right from the news desk.

I’ve gleaned so much about my new home from his novels (and his YA books, which I also adore). More recent additions to my reading list are Randy Wayne White’s books. In contrast to Hiaasen’s typical setting of Miami and south, White’s are centered on the Fort Meyers area (along the Gulf coast of Florida).

While both authors include a healthy dose of history, geography, and biology in their tales they never take themselves too seriously (irreverent is an understatement), as evidenced by this Author’s Note in White’s first novel, Sanibel Flats.

Flamingo Fun

What began with citrus and tropical fruits, quickly grew into a flowering oasis. People clamored to tour their lush greenery and thus, a roadside attraction was born.

In a nod to an extirpated, Florida species, Chilean flamingoes were welcomed to the garden in 1956. A koi pond, turtle exhibit, and parrot aviary were later added.

To preserve this bit of history, the city of St. Petersburg bought the property from the family in 1999 for roughly $2.26 million. In 2016, 20 additional flamingoes were purchased from the San Antonio Zoo to supplement the declining, original flock.

Currently, the plant collection surpasses 50,000 specimens from over 500 different species. Though my visit began with hot and muggy weather, a passing rain shower cooled the gardens off nicely (and had the added benefit of thinning the crowd).

What a wonderful way to spend part of the day!

Mowing, Mowing, Mowing

The first image is an accurate assessment of my predicament. Trying to time my mowing between rain events is a fun challenge. As for the second one, I don’t water my lawn, but it made me laugh.

In between sunsets and beach walks, I have been working on my (seemingly) endless list of house and yard projects. Sadly, one thing I’ll never be able to cross off my list is mowing.

There is a downside to having the largest yard in the neighborhood, I have a lot more to mow! Ah, summertime in Florida…

To the tune of Rawhide:

“Mowing, mowing, mowing,

The grass just keeps on growing,

Keep those mowers mowing,

Too high!”