Checking out the snow birds

Posted 2/15/22

For the last ten days I have been a “snowbird”, one of more than ten thousand migrants from North America who flock to Florida in the winter. The license plates of the cars reflect this, …

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Checking out the snow birds

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For the last ten days I have been a “snowbird”, one of more than ten thousand migrants from North America who flock to Florida in the winter. The license plates of the cars reflect this, Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, and Ontario.

Plus, I suspect that many of the cars with Florida license plates house Northerners who take advantage of the Homesteading tax by claiming Florida as their main residence. If they can claim they live there for six months or more, they are showered with a multitude of advantages, such as huge property tax exemptions, no income or auto tax, and no car inspections, thus the reason so many people chose to retire in Florida.

Florida drivers are similar to Rhode Island drivers in many ways. They often do not use their blinkers, either because they cannot locate the blinker switch or because they make impulsive turns with no time to warn other drivers. They regularly drive slowly in the left lane, forcing other drivers to pass them on the right. In fact, this happens so often that passing on the right is allowable and not a ticketable offense if it can be done safely and the traffic in the left lane is moving too slowly. Hubby, during our Floridian tenure, drives at the speed limit in the left lane as cars speedily pass us. They may not get a ticket for passing on the right, but they are certainly ticket eligible for speeding.

Hubby and I visited one of his many cousins in Florida, and languidly sat in his tropically flourishing backyard in comfy lounge chairs, drinking tropical beverages. Many of the housing neighborhoods circle around a man-made pond with the assumption that people like to have waterfront homes. We gazed at the dazzling water which reflected the Floridian sun.

Sand hill cranes wandered about, and squirrels chased each other among the palm trees. A bunny came up to my chair, startling me. Hubby’s cousin laughed and said that they don’t often see bunnies because they are easy prey for the alligators. They are commonplace in Florida and easily move from culvert to culvert, lake to lake, waterway to puddle to swimming pool to fountain. As Hubby’s cousin finished telling us about the migration of alligators, he pointed to one that was currently living in their pond. Sure enough, swimming back and forth, barely visible above the water line, was an alligator estimated to be about eight feet long. I was shocked! In their backyard! He explained that alligators are not necessarily drawn to people because they are too difficult to catch, (and most likely not as tasty wearing clothes and shoes and all,) but they prefer to eat smaller, bite sized animals such as bunnies and puppies. For this reason, everyone in Florida is cautious to keep their pets safely behind alligator proof fences.

On one of the hot, sunny days, Hubby and I went to the beach. Even though it was a Monday, we could not find a parking space. Because we were driving my friend’s car which has a handicapped placard, we could have parked in one of the many open handicapped spots, but that would not have been right…those spots should house only cars of people with disabilities, who have a need to park closer. We finally followed a family leaving the beach and waited for them to get to their car to slide into their spot. I love this beach because Hubby can sit in the sun and tan, (or should I say, foolishly get a sunburn,) and I can sit nearby in the shade of the palm trees. It’s a win-win!

Leisurely sitting there, sipping a wine cooler, it was entertaining to view the activity on the beach and to listen to the waves slapping against the shore, reminiscent of Rhode Island. It was only later that I learned that waves at that beach were not a natural occurrence, but a product of the many boats passing by. Florida may be a nice place to visit, but I would miss the wonderful waves at Scarborough and Narraganset Beach! My choice is to live in Rhode Island.

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