Most of my local clientele has gone away. Some for a month, others for a week or two. There’s a reason to bank money during season–mid-August through September looms large and quiet.
But I wondered, when you live in a vacation paradise, where do you go on your own vacation? Palm trees and water and so much sun is the norm here. What constitutes the ideal escape from the so-called ideal?
“I just want to put on a sweater,” said one of my local ladies. “You know, get up in the morning and go for a walk, wearing a sweater.”
She left for upstate New York two days ago.
“Layers. I love putting on layers,” said a charter boat captain. “Down vests, long-sleeve T-shirts, light jackets. It’s like you wake up and it’s 45 degrees, then it climbs to 82 by afternoon. I love that!”
He is off for a month in Montana.
“I have these great boots that go great with a pair of jeans that fit me perfectly, and I never get to wear them here,” said a bartender who’d landed at my bar for a cheap happy hour drink. “Okay, maybe once or twice in January I get to wear the boots, and sometimes I don’t care if I sweat wearing the jeans at night here, but to be able to wear outfits like that all the time….”
Her dream vacation? Alaska. She’s never been, she says, but someday.
When I first moved to South Florida, I couldn’t imagine why everyone complained so much about the summer heat and humidity. After all, up north, it can be just as hot and sticky–with the added bonus of air quality problems (always loved that Code Red in D.C.) and no ocean or bay breezes to blow it all away.
One day last week, however, when thunderstorms rumbled throughout the morning, and I had no place to be at any particular time, I stayed in bed for an extra hour and snuggled under my light coverlet as I listened to the rain pour down. I thought about the down quilts and crocheted blankets I routinely used up north and don’t even own down here. I remembered how there was always that one day in late August or early September when a morning chill signaled back-to-school and work. I recalled wearing white only between Memorial Day and Labor Day and tackling the dreaded chore of switching out closets when it was time for the light summer wardrobe to be replaced with the bulky one of winter.
I smiled as I thought about my spare closet in which the remaining few items of my “seasonal” outerwear are stored–a soft, sapphire blue fleece I love, a tan rain coat that screams downtown D.C., and a hideous, ill-fitting black and purple water-proof L.L. Bean parka that I only wore when I had to shovel snow. The hanging ghosts of a time and place gone by.
These days, I live in flip flops and shorts or skirts, tank tops and jeans. The more time that goes by, the less familiar my big-girl dress-up clothes feel, the more awkward my winter wear feels. Would I want to go away on vacation and wear any of it?
For a moment, maybe. But also on this vacation that is not even close to being in my realm of possibility, I would trek to a locale where I might savor the scent of evergreens and pines and of wood burning in a fireplace. I guess I, too, would head for the cool, crisp air of the northern and western and eastern hills, just as my local clientele has done. While I would never travel where the ugly snow coat might come in handy, I’d love to be in the perfect climate to wear that pretty blue fleece again. But then again, only for a moment.