Moving house is something that when done frequently feels almost like a normal part of life; for example people attached to the military services. We haven’t packed up our belongings and permanently changed our address in more than eighteen years. Our last home was the longest I had ever lived at one address my whole life and while I loved our location we felt change was healthy to growth. Like sneakers outgrown we looked forward to something different, something new, and somewhere exotic.
We have traveled to many places in our home country and even to other countries in Europe and inevitably we ask ourselves the ultimate question: could I live here? We have rented flats in Florence Italy, London England, Paris France, and Gustavia on Saint Barthélemy in the French West Indies. We like all of these wonderful locations and love what is available to the locals. However as much as I was enamored with the tropical flora and wildlife in St. Barths it is challenging to travel to; two or three flights and or two flights and a nauseating ferry ride. A passport is required for all of these locations and so would be challenging to some family members and we kept looking for a new address.
We considered Santa Barbara, California and I still smile when I think of its beautiful location nestled between scenic mountains and the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. I would welcome a visit of two or three weeks but I am not sure we are ready to cross country just yet…but maybe someday we will. So we kept looking.
One year we decided to try a little Island on the Gulf of Mexico we could drive to from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina after a visit with friends. We enjoyed the views as we drove further and further south and the transition of the scenery to more and more tropical. We drove over the elevated causeway to an island that we had read about, heard of and here it was an oasis of beautiful tamed jungle with 22 miles of paved bicycle paths. Would we be able to live on a daily basis without using a motorized vehicle? Yes!
Top speed on the island is thirty-five per miles hour, no traffic lights, nature is preserved and protected, and did I mention the 22 miles of paved bike paths? This looks like what we’ve been looking for. We’ll keep a car in case we want to take a trip to the airport or simply to go in town a.k.a. Fort Myers.
We took the leap and drove our rented truck south nearly 1,300 miles all while Hurricane Dorian was rattling the Caribbean and tormenting the southern east coast of Florida.
When folks up north hear you are moving to Florida they remind you of all the negatives: the heat in summer, hurricanes, alligators, palmetto bugs…some people have a huge list of reasons not to leave the north including the change of seasons, a beautiful snow covered yard (they forget snow continues right over the driveway and sidewalks too and doesn’t just cover the grass and trees). We were not dissuaded, this is my third move to Florida and interestingly in all three I left Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey around the end of August and the beginning of September.
We unpacked our belongings and began to settle into our new home; a condo within walking distance to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. I unpacked a box and began to walk down the hall when a creature on the floor caught my attention. My first thought was it’s not the giant palmetto bug of legends, it was nearly an inch long and then I realized it was a tiny, tiny baby lizard. Funny the reversal emotions take when you realize that it isn’t an insect but a small animal that somehow is in your living space. I tried for two days to catch the baby lizard all while its body got smaller and its head larger. Eventually we managed to trap it under a plastic bowl and slide a sheet of paper under it. I took it out to the foliage and left it under a shrub which it climbed up immediately.
For several days as we passed by we saw a lizard slightly larger, day by day until it seemed as all the other lizards in many sizes and proportions on the walkway and shrubbery. I smile, this is what I like to see in autumn; beautiful flowers, whispering palm trees, and happy frolicking lizards.