Going Rustic In Suburbia

It’s such beautiful cool weather, I’ve had my windows open since yesterday.  At 2:00pm, it was  84 degrees but only 59% humidity so it felt like 70 degrees.  Actually, anything less than 80% humidity is a relief big time to us here in Florida.  My entire house is under a heavy oak and pine tree canopy, so once the humidity lifts, my place stays nice and cool.  My Uncle Jimmy, who built my home for me back in 1984, put extra insulation in the walls and under the roof and I’m sure that has saved me a bundle in the past 25 years.  In fact, last month when I had my giant head and chest cold, I kept the a/c on 73 degrees for two weeks’ straight because I was fevered.  I got the electric bill today and it was only $116.  I usually keep the a/c on 76 during the day and down to 73 or 74 at night and my Florida Power and Light bill for my little 2,000 square feet cottage is usually about $90.  I know that’s cheap.  When winter comes, I usually keep the thermostat set to come on automatically if the temperature drops to 55.  I rarely have the heater on.  I enjoy the cool air, and especially like to sleep with the windows open at night when the cool air is blowing through.  That’s because being cold in Florida happens so seldom that it’s a novelty.  I’m sure I wouldn’t want to sleep with windows open in Montana.

In fact, wintertime in Florida gives me a chance to wear long sleeves and flannels and sweats, which is another reason I don’t need the heater on until it’s 55 degrees inside.  Typically during the summer in Florida I stick to wearing one layer, simply because two or more layers, no matter how stylish, is hot.  If it wasn’t for the misquitoes, I’d do yard work in a swimsuit.  So I enjoy getting to wear different clothes when the weather is cool.

I enjoy wearing jeans and yard boots and a long sleeved cotton shirt to go pick up the oak and pine deadfall from the yard.  Living under a beautiful canopy, one of the things that happens regularly is dead branches come down.  There are always fallen branches to pick up, which is fine with me because I get to stow it all away for wood at the firepit.  I keep separate stacks for kindling, fresh wood and seasoned wood.  We’ve had a burning ban in effect so I don’t do a fire every night as I would like.  The rule is you can have a fire to cook.  I enjoy getting to live a little bit of the rustic life.

My dad was a character.  In the 70’s, he moved out to a cabin he built in the Everglades, off Alligator Alley, off Turner River Road.  He had several acres there and grew his own vegetables and had his own honeybees.  Once a year, a reporter from The Miami Herald would go out and visit to interview him for an update.  That was a novelty back then, and people liked hearing about someone who chose to go out and live in the woods.  They portrayed him as some wacky hermit type dude.  Which, ok, he was 🙂

But he taught me about appreciating the outdoors and loving the rustic lifestyle.  Although I grew tired of having to go camping with the family every single weekend of my childhood, I loved the adventure of it.  I loved being able to go off by myself with a book and sit where nature was all around me.  At home growing up in Hialeah, our houses were right next to each other, maybe 20 feet apart.  If Mrs. Jones was frying chicken, we smelled it.  When they sat down to dinner, we could hear them talk.  My dad planted about 30 trees on our small lot, walling us in for privacy. So being away from people and being out in nature was something I learned to love.

In fact, just today I went out and pruned about 30 cuttings of turk’s cap and night blooming jasmine and planted them along the front property line.  I’ve created a nice living wall of nature that runs the width of the property.  It gives me lots of privacy and creates a little wildlife sanctuary here that is private from the road and the walkers by.  Whenever I cut the top off a plant, I stick the cutting in the ground and water it in, then keep it watered for a week or so until it takes.  And I do dozens of them every few months.

I’m glad I’ve carved out a little piece of Paradise of my own, even if it is right here in suburbia.

It is what we make it, right?

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