Return Again, Naturally

A few observations upon our recent return: First, potholes, that is, the lack of potholes here. Up north the potholes have gotten really bad. All over. And just because you can't quantify real bad doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Here you just glide down the road. The only things missing are the convertible and convertible music.

A few of our thrift stores in Inverness are closed. That's got to be a tough business. If you're selling at thrift sale prices, you'd have to get your merchandise almost for free to make a profit. Maybe all the thrift stores are out of business, they just don't know it yet. The landlord who raised the rent at the local Hospice thrift shop last spring now has a vacant building for rent. So for the $3 bag Friday we have to trudge out almost to Crystal River and hope one of those thrift store hogs hasn't already grabbed everything in sight. Oy vey, life is hard.

The local Checkers is advertising "Montreal Steakburgers" on the marquee, which is a new one on me. I didn't know Montreal was famous for its steakburgers. Up to now, I've always thought Montreal's claims to fame were speaking French and threatening to secede from Canada. I guess you never stop learning. Hopefully not. Of course we had to get a couple of Checkers’ BLTs, with mustard, hold the mayo-perhaps the best bargain in town.

I had all kinds of plans to work on the house here. For the last eight months I’ve thought about painting the house and maybe even having a lanai built. But now all those ideas seem ludicrous. Do what? Why bother? Suddenly just changing a light bulb or making room in the garage for new stuff is all I want to take on. And get in the kayak and on the bike, of course. Wow, ending a sentence with a preposition followed by starting the next one with the word and. Somewhere my third grade teacher, Mrs. Evans, queen of the grammar police, is wincing.
I bought a one-speed bike at Suncoast Bikes. It's flat black, with black handlebars too, in kind of a cool, sleek way, except for the fact that it's a one-speed bike, just like any six-year-old kid could ride. It might as well be painted bright orange, sport a banana seat and have the colorful glittery stuff hanging from the handlebar grips. With a Power Rangers sticker. Good thing I don't have to try to impress anybody.

I see some of the same people on the bike trail from last spring. Those riding the serious bikes don't wave or say hello; they're too busy biking. Once in a while they'll nod ever so slightly that it might be mistaken for just a normal run of the mill head movement. The people riding old fashioned bikes- with raised handlebars and large, padded seats-and the goofy recumbents-now, now, lighten up folks-- wave, smile and say hi, although you barely hear it, especially if they're coming at you. They're clearly enjoying themselves, out and about, enthused about simply moving their legs and circulating the blood, not peddling to meet daily logs or mileage goals. I love coming across them, especially the older folks whose smiles scream, "Hey, look at me! I'm in Florida and feel like a twelve-year-old again!"
Sometimes I think how much fun it would be to have a big place along one of the lakes, where you could look at the water while having your morning coffee and newspaper, and hop in a boat without fuss or muss or a lot of preparation. But then, here in our landlocked little house we have great neighbors, city water and sewer, and-only a few blocks away- the Withlacoochee Trail. Goodness gracious, who needs more? We don't take returning to the Florida sun for granted. It's great to be back in Citrus County.

Paul N. Herbert, author of The Jefferson Hotel: The History of a Richmond Landmark, God Knows All Your Names: Obscure Stories in American History, and Elinor Fry: A Legacy of Dance in Richmond, can be reached at: jeffersonhotelbook@yahoo.com.