One month, and it’s beginning to feel like home. We definitely kept too much stuff from both our homes in New York and still need to purge, but I have faith it will happen. We unpacked most of the 106 cardboard boxes, and found interested parties on the internet to take the empty boxes, thus keeping them from landfills. Signing up for the Next Door app has been helpful. People recommend nail salons, pet sitters, appliance repair services and post photos of random creatures like bugs and bobcats.

We knew it would be hot in Florida in August, but I have some positive revelations from our first month here as well:

1. It’s hot everywhere in August

I had braced myself for the heat. Flip flops, scrunchies for the hair, shorts and a bikini for the pool on my Lanai. Then I heard from folks back home in New York and in Minnesota and in Arizona. The USA seems to be overheating this summer and it’s not only in Florida. The humidity is high, but people here are prepared for it. The stores are all airconditioned. The homes have A/C and private pools. People use the pools more than the beach in the summer, and stay indoors during the hottest time of the day.

2. People wear masks in Florida

Even though the governor has argued that schools can’t mandate students wear masks, people are wearing them in lots of places, more so than they were in New York last month. I was surprised to see more than half the people in Walmart and Publix wearing masks. The COVID positive rates are high in Florida and hospitals are filled with unvaccinated people on ventilators and dying. Many of the schools have defied the governor and are enforcing mask rules to protect the kids and teachers anyway. It is good to see people using caution and common sense in public, even if they don’t have to.

3. Costco sells wine

I am a big fan of Costco. The warehouse store makes me happy and I have bought everything from tires and bunk beds, to steak and pistachios. In the middle of the store, a short drive from my house, is a sommelier and a humungous selection of wines of all types and prices. They even have a Kirkland brand which tastes pretty good. I’m hopeful they will start giving out free samples; maybe a wine pairing next to the morsels of Pierogis and Brie cheese.

4. People are helpful at DMV

Picture on my license plate

Seriously, this was definitely a pleasant surprise. They don’t call it DMV, you go to the “Tax Collector” here. Due to COVID, you make reservations online. I was able to reserve a time for the next day. You fill out some paperwork, and if you don’t, they give you some to fill in when you check in. I replaced my driver’s license in about 30 minutes and had a brand new colorful one with a much better picture; they let you smile here. Then, I registered my car. Behind the agent, is a shelf of beautiful plates you can choose from if you don’t want the one with a plain orange. Mine supports the coral reef and is oh so pretty.

5. The Roads are in great condition

Sandhill Cranes

The roads are new. Potholes do not exist. Signs are easy to see and read and give you plenty of advance notice before an exit. The roads are clean and lined with palm trees, not overgrown grass or branches. When you want to get on or off an exit, there is plenty of room to merge, not like the Northern State Parkway. Even the stores and buildings on the sides of the road are shiny and new. You just have to watch for the occasional Sandhill Crane crossing the street.

6. Boating with Dolphins

Instead of buying a boat, we have rented a motor boat with my sister’s family several times now and each time, we see DOLPHINS!! They are such beautiful and fun loving animals. They swim near the boat. They ride waves and pop up out of the water to breath. Last week, it seemed we came across a nursery where dolphins were teaching their babies to swim. The turquoise, clear water makes viewing these beauties easy. After we parked the boat by a beach, a large dark shadow passed the bow. A few seconds later, the manatee came up for air. Great day on the water

7. Landscaping looks great

walk around my neighborhood

Living in a community, we have the luxury of having the grounds cared for. The palm trees and oak trees frame each house in our neighborhood. Bushes, Bird of Paradise and Hibiscus flowering plants bloom in all the yards and block unsightly A/C units or reclaimed water covers. Each week, someone comes and maintains our yard and all the shared areas so it always looks neat and tidy. In addition, Florida neighborhoods are sprinkled with manmade lakes which make for pretty sunset photos.

8. Discount Tickets

As a resident of Florida, you get all kinds of discounts to the many parks. A 4-day Ticket to Disney costs $54 per day and more options are available. This month, I will use the discount to visit the Mote Aquarium for half off admission on weekends. If I really like it, I am considering applying to be a volunteer at the aquarium.

9. People Visit

Yes, I do miss my friends and family in New York. This is our first month, and we have already had our first house guest, my son Matt. We went out on the boat with my sister and his cousins and have some fun plans set up for this weekend. Florida is a great place to visit, so I am hopeful that we will stay connected with everyone as they venture south, especially during those cold winter months up north. I’d love to meet up with friends and family so please contact me when you plan to be in the area.

Maybe next post will be about things that have been unhappy surprises in Florida, like have you ever heard of a mole cricket? Stay tuned!!