Florida, ME by Julia Spencer-Fleming

I'm staying at the Hyatt Pier 66. Sweet.I’m pursuing a very traditional Maine pastime today: I’m visiting Florida. Specifically, I’m here for the annual Broward County Library Foundation Literary Feast. And while I came for work, when my plane touched down in Fort Lauderdale and the pilot announced the temperature outside was 85 degrees, I reacted as any Mainer who had escaped ten inches of snow and an incipient ice storm: I threw up my arms and said, “Yes!”

Well, not really, But I THOUGHT it.

Maine is the land of the snowbirds. Our seniors, having finally seen the fledgelings fly away and having accumulated enough of a nest egg, migrate south in the late fall. They spend the winter getting tan on golf courses and chortling evilly while watching The Weather Channel. When the heat and humidity index rises higher than their ages, they wing their way back north, where they spend the summer months regaling their neighbors on the crazy things those people in Florida get up to. Herewith, the stages of a Mainer’s relationship to Florida:

5 to 15: Disney World!!! Awesome!! watch?v=xDzQ5sI_9F0&t=1m42s

Woo Hoo! 18 to 24: Fly down in march, jam into a cheap hotel room with four other girls/guys. Spend days roasting on the beach, nights perfecting your beer pong technique. Work on collection of plastic 22 ounce souvenir Marguerita glasses. Throw up, return home with circles under your eyes and a hangover pallor beneath your tan.


25 to 30: Too busy having babies to go to Florida. Besides, do you know what that sun can do to an infant’s skin?

Just one more picture and then we can head for the hotel, thank God.

31 to 40: Disney World!!! Did they have lines like this when you were a kid? And really – $2 for a lousy bottled water? Oh well – at least you can save on the mementos with your cousin Dana’s kids’ hand-me-down Mickey Mouse toys.

41 to 55: Too busy paying for college/trade school/business start-up/first home for the kids. Besides, do you know what that sun can do to your skin? Your dermatologist already took off two basal cell thingies.

56 to 64: What is it with all those oldsters moving down to Florida? By God, you’re still tough enough to make it through a Maine winter. Shoveling snow is good for you. Tease your cousin Dana for falling for the hype and getting a condo in Sarasota. Visit him and his wife every February. Hey, it’s free.

Sure, it's fun. But is it really RIGHT to have fun in January?65: Your first month-long rental in Fort Myers. Alternate between marveling at wearing shorts in January and agonizing over getting soft. And won’t you miss celebrating a white Christmas?

66: Second rental in Fort Myers. This one for six weeks. It’s not really getting soft–it’s being sensible. Think of all the heating oil you’re saving!

67: Third rental in Fort Myers. Decide you can, in fact, live without a white Christmas.

C'mere and give Meme a great big kiss!

68 to The End: Enjoy your sunset years wintering in Vero Beach/Naples/St. Augustine. Yeah, the drunken kids on Spring Break are a pain in the butt, but you’ve shaved six strokes off your game, and you can always count on seeing your grandchildren when their parents bring them down to Disney World. Life is good.

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7 Responses to Florida, ME by Julia Spencer-Fleming

  1. MCWriTers says:

    I guess it’s pretty clear what demographic I’m in if I admit that I’m looking forward to a two week Florida condo rental sometime in my future, yes?

    I never go out in the sun, of course–those basal-cell thingies–and I’ll work hard every day, but there will be no snow out the window, and the birds circling above me will be…will be…argh! Not seagulls but vultures. Which sets the mystery writer’s mind a wondering. What’s down there in the snake-infested, gator-filled, green iguana denizened underbrush, and will it lead to a plot?

    Mystery writers go south to expand our imaginations, right, Julia?


  2. Sorry, folks. I’m one Mainer who dislikes hot climates. That’s anything above 75 degrees. In spite of the many enticing conferences that meet in Florida, I will not be going there ever again. I plan to spend my “sunset years” right here in Maine.

  3. Lea Wait says:

    Me too, Kaitlyn, Although I do have a cousin with a condo … and a friend … I’ve only visited Disney World when I’ve spoken at a conference there. (Single parent with children? Would have loved to have taken them… but no way could I have afforded it. My children definitely considered themselves deprived.) I’ll admit a few days of warm sound good. And my husband (who grew up in Beirut) does mention the word “sun” an unusual number of times during the winter, but I’m a 24/7 sunblock gal, even in winter. Beaches I do when covered in a mumu (sp?) and enormous hat. (Another way I embarrassed my kids.) So … I love the post, Julia. And — it’s certainly true for many folks, including my next door neighbors, multi-generations Mainers who live on their boat in Florida in the winter. But, me? I’m still with Kaitlyn. (How could you move all those reference books back and forth, anyway?

  4. Barbara Ross says:

    ‘m dashing around finishing projects because Sunday I am off for three weeks in Key West. My parents started going there in 1994 exactly the way Julia described–first a month in a rental condo, then three months, then a season in a rental house and then finally purchasing their own.

    My dad passed away last year and this year we’re accompanying my Mom. We’re back to the month in the rental condo (my brother and his wife when down for the first week). Will the cycle begin again?

  5. Loved your post — snowbirds and nest eggs… !

    I will admit it… I TOTALLY aspire to this… even though I like the snow, I like the beach better.

  6. Pingback: A Key West Primer for Mainers by Barbara Ross | Maine Crime Writers

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