I couldn't have found a place to retire that is situated much farther from my sister's home in Florida. I will travel from the northwest corner of the country down to the Gulf coast of Florida, not quite as far south as the Florida keys, but close. Between now and then, I need to pack and try to keep myself from getting sick. It seems that many of my friends have caught some kind of a respiratory virus that has them coughing and generally not feeling well. Often when I travel I end up getting a cold from stress and the proximity of lots of other people's germs. Not to mention that it wouldn't be much fun to arrive in warm and sunny Florida and be unwell. Norma Jean is looking forward to me visiting and not bringing any unwanted guests.
Last year I visited my sister during January, and this year it's a month later, but I am sure glad I'm not there right now. It's been unseasonably cold there, and when I talk with Norma Jean on video chat, she's bundled up and complaining about the cold. By midweek it will be even colder there, with the high temperatures in Florida actually forecast to be colder than it is here! It's been a really wacky winter so far, with us in the usually wet Pacific Northwest going weeks and weeks without any rain, and the northeast part of the country receiving storm after wintery storm. Some of my blogging friends who live in that part of the country have posted pictures that make me glad to be living here. As pretty as the snow is, subzero temperatures and wind do NOT appeal to me.
When I lived in Colorado, I loved to go cross-country skiing and sometimes could do it from my front door. There was a small park close by, and I remember times I'd strap on my skis and go out for a few laps around the park. It might have been very cold, but I didn't feel it because I was exercising, and I learned not to overdress, as I would be quite warm within just a few minutes. It's a little different here, since it's much more humid, and when my fingers get cold, it takes quite a lot of exercise before they warm up.
That's one thing I still haven't mastered: the art of keeping my fingers warm on our winter hikes. Yesterday it was around freezing when I joined the Fairhaven walkers, and I was cold when we began walking. It took almost twenty minutes of exercise before my fingers were warm. It's the same thing on our hikes: I can be warm and toasty everywhere and then we stop for lunch. By the time I've eaten, my fingers are frozen, and it takes quite awhile before they get warm again. I've tried mittens (which must be removed in order to manage my lunch), layers, but nothing really works all that well. Of course, this topic is discussed by all of us, as we are in the same predicament, and the only thing that seems to work consistently are hand warmers. These are little disposable packets that, when opened, generate heat for awhile. I've tried them before, but I stubbornly continue to try to find a glove/mitten configuration that works. I know there must be one.
When it gets cold outside, I worry about the animals that must try to find shelter in order to survive. Many wild creatures have adapted to humans well enough that they take advantage of warm crawl spaces and other nooks and crannies. There are several feral cats that take advantage of our apartment complex's outdoor porches, and I've disturbed a few now and then when I leave in the dark. I've started leaving food for one of them, who always runs down the stairs when I approach, but if I talk to it, the cat will talk back for a moment or two before retreating. I think we have an understanding. I put a blanket out last night near a chair that the cat seems to have adopted, along with fresh water. Cans of tuna fish disappear, and although I have no way of knowing for sure that the cat is the one eating it, I like to think it is.
Since I will be gone for almost two weeks, of course I worry that the cat will miss me. But I must remember that it got along just fine before I discovered it, and it will be fine while I'm gone. But I do really wish that all the animals that don't have warm and safe places to stay could be looked after by those of us who are distressed by the suffering of our fellow creatures. I've seen enough pain in the world that being able to alleviate even a tiny bit of it affords me a bit of comfort.
I know this tendency I have to worry about things I cannot change is counterproductive. In order to distract myself I go about my life trying to focus on the positive aspects of the world around me, which is a pretty wonderful place, after all. I've got good books to read, movies to see with dear friends, and a social circle that sustains me. My virtual online friends also give me numerous different ways to look at the world, all of which enrich my life. Until next Sunday, I look forward to reading about your adventures before I take off on one of my own.