Autumn has officially arrived here in central Florida. Just before sundown yesterday, I noticed it was cooler outside than in, so I turned off the a/c and opened up all the windows. That means we had only five months of summer heat and humidity this year – yay! Right now it’s down to 65 degrees and 65% humidity – ideal snoozing weather! Actually, anytime it’s less than 80% humidity, I like it, no matter what the temp. Less than 70% – heaven! One nice thing about getting to sleep with the windows open is that I can hear all the night critters as they make their way along the trails; the raccoons, the armadillos, opossums, squirrels and bunnies. I can hear the frogs and the crickets, and the occasional car on the road. I can hear the bamboo rustle and creak and I can smell the night blooming jasmine and honeysuckle growing outside my bedroom window. All these things I miss for 5-6 months each year as I live inside in the a/c. So when the first cool of autumn hits, to me that means vacation time.
And vacation time can be had even while I am at home. I don ‘t need to leave to have vacation time. It’s a state of mind. As I was growing up, we used to always go on vacation the first two weeks in September, because that was when mom got her vacation. Every single year we started school two weeks late. We always went camping and we always went to the Smokey Mountains. I remembered getting excited to feel the cool air as we drove farther north – cool air being such a rarity in Florida.
So when the first cool air hits me here at home now, I begin to feel in an even more festive mood than usual. The cool air makes me feel frisky. I want to be outside in it. I want to be active in it. I want to haul out all my yard tools and climb the oak tree; the one in the east backwoods that has the spiral staircase in it. I discovered that the first week I lived here in 1984. I was 32.
I saw it was a good climbing tree and had a lower branch of the right size to hold me, at an easy height to scale and stand on. As I looked around inside the tree to learn what branches I could hold on to and use as steps, I noticed it was a perfect spiral staircase configuration. In just a few steps, I could go right up into the tree, curl around it as I went up, and see down into my yard. The cool air makes me want to climb my trees.
The cool weather is also when I think about where I’ll pitch my tent this year. I like to camp outside in my little woods during the cool weather, and I can place my tent in a few places so that I don’t see the house. I can pretend I’m camping in the forest. It makes me feel on vacation when I do that, so I do it during times I can’t take a trip. I cook out in my little firepit: corn, potato, garlic, fresh veggies wrapped in foil, it all goes into the small fire, and I love to sit and watch a fire. These mini vacation times tide me over until I can leave and take a real vacation.
But then, who’s to say these aren’t real vacations?
What is real anyway, besides perception?
And my story is I’m on vacation.
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