We've been down in Florida the last few days -- invited to a Seder at a friend's house, we also got a chance to visit my aunt and uncle and other friends who are down here for the winter. And as nice as the weather's been back home in New York, the weather here is spectacular.
It's hard to put into words the feel of Florida weather. As you step outside, a soft warmth envelops you. The air is filled with a lush aroma, the result of the rich flora. It just feels easy. This reaction may bemostly psychological. For those of us residing winters in New York, a sudden disembarking from an airplane into the mild Florida weather is a euphoric experience. It brings back memories of shorts, t-shirts and sandals; a more laid-back, easygoing existence.
Stacey and a Banyon tree - outside our Hotel.
To be sure, Florida would not be my choice of a place to live: way too car oriented, an anti-social society with its lack of public neighborhoods and a prevailing ostentatious display of wealth (and its flip side - vast areas of grinding poverty) are some of the things that turn me off.
But a month down here in the middle of a New York winter is not a bad thing.
We arrived Thursday on Delta Song - a quick, and very early 7:00 am flight from JFK to Fort Lauderdale airport. Picking up our rental car we had nowhere to go: it was too early to check in, too early to call family or friends. So we headed to Las Olas - the lovely and fancy shopping street in Fort Lauderdale for a walk and a look around. Food is no longer served on these east coast flights so we were ready for a bite to eat and had some nice sandwiches at Gran Forno, a bakery and cafe on the block.
After lunch, we checked in to our Holiday Inn in Boca Raton. We were going to head over to Deerfield Beach to visit my aunt Bea and Uncle Walter bu they called and cancelled: my uncle had not been feeling well; could we postpone lunch until tomorrow? So we visited the hotel pool, hand some cocktails at the hotel bar and then headed to dinner with our snowbird friends, Barbara and Mark. These two rarely eat home and so are familiar with all the good restaurants in the surrounds. We met them at Cafe Casablanca (we'd been there before with them) for a lovely meal at on a porch overlooking the beach and ocean in Fort Lauderdale. A little espresso afterwards at one of their coffee haunts and then back to the hotel for a well-needed sleep - we had been up since 4:00 am to make that early flight from JFK!
The next day, Friday, we drove over to Bea and Walter's in Deerfield Beach. My mother's sister and her husband have been living down here for some 30-plus years. They have a sweet home in one of the older developments and, in past years, we've always stayed with them. But, not wanting to burden them with that chore, this time we opted for the hotel and some visits instead.
My Uncle Walter was feeling much better when we arrived and my aunt served us her famous spareribs for lunch after which we strolled around the development. It's so nice to visit them - before Florida they lived in Baltimore for many years, but when I was but a child, they lived down the block on West End Avenue and our two families were not only geographicaly close but often shared many wonderful times together. Their kids, Peter and Kenny -my cousins -were two of my closest friends on a day-to-day basis, and it was a sad day when they moved away. Uncle Walter left the Post Office for a new job in Baltimore with the Social Security administration and our two families were separated after all those years of close living.
My mother's sister - my Aunt Bea - she never ages.
Uncle Walter - in good spirits.
Bea and Stacey - we went for a walk.
In front of their house in Deefield Beach.
The photographer with his uncle and aunt.
Bea and Walter are the model of a loving relationship. Dedicated to each other, loving and caring, they have been blessed with an enduring, peaceful and long-lasting marriage. My uncle, at 90, is slowing down a bit but remains witty and pleasant at all times - the perfect host. My Aunt Bea seems to go on forever - young and vital and well informed (and opinionated) about the world about her. It's always a joy to visit and spend time with them.
Tomorrow: Seder at a very beautiful and big Boca Raton house.