Last year at this time, it was 80 degrees in Indiana. Today, the first day of spring, it is 22 degrees with a bitter wind blowing. What makes it worse is that I just returned from visiting John and Lisa in the Florida Keys so there is still a faint trace of warmth and sunshine and blooming flowers hovering in my mind, making it even more of a shock when I step foot outside the door.
This was an especially exhausting trip because of Mom. I think it will be our last long journey together. Because of her, we pared our activities down to a minimum. We did go to the Hard Rock Casino once, where I actually walked out a small winner. And we ate out at least once every day so I stuffed myself with fresh grouper and yellowtail, shrimp po-boys and blackened mahi-mahi. And, of course, no meal in the Keys is complete without a piece of Key Lime pie.
But, mostly, other than visiting with the kids, I sat out on their balcony and gazed at the scene before me. The sun was warm and bright, the water was the purest turquoise and the flowers were beautifully purple and crimson and gold. Pelicans dove and sea gulls swirled and cried. The palm trees rustled in the breeze. I saw a lime-green baby Iguana and graceful sailboats skimming the waves. I went out early to see dawn break and again in the evening, where I was treated to an incredible sunset over the Gulf every night.
I was excited to see a Frigate bird, a bird that I saw first on an earlier trip to the Keys and one that fascinates me. They look like giant flying Batman logos in the sky. Their wing span can be seven feet but they have stubby little legs. They can not land on the water, can barely walk and can't take off from a flat surface, so most of their lives are spent in the air. They can fly for as long as a week without landing.
Frigate birds are also called Pirate birds because they will harass other seabirds until they force them to regurgitate their food which they then steal and eat themselves.
Florida was a nice break. The kids watched out for Mom so I could slip away from my responsibilities for a few days in favor of sea and sand and flowers and birds and warmth.
Then it was back to Indiana, where it seemed that the temperatures plunged when we hit the state line. The calendar says its the first day of spring but Mother Nature laughs at our expectations. It will be spring when she says so and not until.