Fridays Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South
I know many Americans are having a rough time right now, but I was just outside working, and the thought crossed my mind that life is good here in North Florida.
Yes, my income is not what it used to be, and I have to produce more things to make the same kind of wage I made a few years ago, but Wanda and I are happy with each other, and we are happy with our living environment.
That isn't just our house that we like, but the yard, the location, the wild animals who are our neighbors, our human neighbors, and this being Florida, the weather, too. The town of Madison, three miles away suits us just fine. Yes, it is small, but that is kind of nice, too.
There is only one restaurant that serves breakfast, and when we go there we always see people we know, and the owner and the waitress have become friends. Plus, the coffee and the hash browns are very good.
The town of Madison has 3,000 people, but the surrounding county of Madison has 19,000. The town has about five banks, a couple lumber companies, a newspaper, I bet at least ten churches, a few gas stations, two grocery stores, a couple of tractor dealers, two farm supply stores, some car repair places, two nice antique shops, two florists, a hospital, a handful of restaurants, and quit a few historical mansions.
Between the town and the county we have everything we need, and Tallahassee, the state capital and the home of Florida State University is only 50 miles away. We have a lot of farmers all around us, and you know what, farmers are usually nice people. They work hard and are easy to make friends with.
There is something special and unusual about Madison the town and Madison the county. They are both "dry." That means there are no liquor bars or liquor stores. I don't mind that a bit. In fact, I think it is rather nice.
So, like I said, I was outside today working and thinking how nice life is. I'm building myself a tree house. There are two sections. One that will have a little house on it, and as you pass through that house you can walk an elevated bridge to another tree that will have a observation platform about 14 foot square. Now the platforms are done, and I am now putting up the railings on the stairs, platforms and the bridge.
I noticed that way up in one tree there is a hole in the side of the tree, and I worry about the tree rotting from water sitting in that hole. It is way too high for me to climb to or get a ladder to, so I had a guy with a bucket truck come today to give me an estimate. For $150 dollars he will fill that hole, and cut a few big limbs for me. That sounded good, and he will be here Tuesday. Wanda and I walked around today seeing if we could find a few more limbs for him to trim.
The last few nights it was cold, so I covered some of my vegetables with a tarp. Today we took the tarp off and the broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi did just fine, but some animal ate all the lettuce down to nothing and that wasn't just the plants under the tarp but every place. They didn't touch the arugula or the carrots, mustard greens, collard greens, or radishes, but every spinach leaf, all the oak lettuce, deer tongue, and beet leaves are gone. It is past time to go hunting, but I will be out there to see what is taking my food, and if they are edible, we will be having stew. I think it is rabbits.
That is life with a garden though, at least they left me a few things to eat.
It was 65 today, and after a few days of chilly weather that was great. I took some time and sat in the covered swing we have, and relaxed and listened to the sounds of the woods and watched the cardinals at the feeder. There was no wind, and though I couldn't see them, I could hear the squirrels going through the leaves on the ground collecting acorns.
Sometimes it is nice to just sit and think. It is a good time to pray and thank God for all he has given us. Yes, times are tough, and we don't have it as good as we did a few years ago, but I am not complaining. Here I am in North Florida, it is warm in December, and I have a nice place to live and work. You can't ask for much more than that.
BACK to the Essays.