Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Houses on the Prairie - in Florida



Last week I was at a delayed holiday gathering. While talking with some ladies I had just met the topic of storms came up. I commented on my opinion of the people in our hometown who assumed the sky was falling and therefore all the trees were going to come crashing down on their house, so they took immediate action and clear cut their yard. Wasn't that the point of homeowners insurance? To repair the house? However, no insurance was going to replace that 75 year old tall pine or the 100 year old live oak (you are going to die in Hell for) that you removed.

One of the ladies laughed and said,"Honey, I just cut all the trees down in my yard." Before I could decide if I had had enough wine to tell her she was an idiot or politely ask her if she had lost her ever loving mind, she added,"my husband just loved them." I asked, "Do I sense some marital disharmony here with this herbicide?" 

"Oh, you better believe it. I called the yard man on the way home from the courthouse and told him I wanted all those trees gone!" "Please tell me there were no magnolias?" "Sweet heart, those are the worst. And, I got him to pull up all the azaleas while he was at it." By this time, another lady standing there was ready to step in between us.

"Azaleas, what do you have against them?" "Honey, they only bloom once a year, the blooms don't last that long, and the bushes are just ugly." I suggested we change the subject to something a little less controversial, say politics or religion.

Then this week I am in Florida with friends visiting these huge planned communities that resemble 1500 little house on the prairie. My friend from last week would be in heaven, very few trees to worry about. I did notice that there was ONE huge old live oak in the front yard of the friend we were visiting. It was hard to miss. 

Actually, I say "notice". By the time we had driven what seemed like miles through the streets, avenues, circles, and traces around the golf course of homes all with one of four floor plans (I would soon learn): the Glory, the Bay Breeze, the Blue Sky, or the Mystic, it was hard not to miss the trees. Oh, there were palm trees, but the community is not on the coast, so it doesn't strike you as some place that should only have palm trees. 

When I commented about the lovely lone oak in my new friend's yard, she laughed. "Well did you notice the other tree we have?" I had not. She went on to tell us that a requirement of the developer was that each homeowner plant a "tree" in their front yard. And, as I looked down, the street, sure enough in each yard there was 6 to 7 foot sapling of some sort stuck in the ground, supported by guy wires. 

They resembled token trees offered by each homeowner to some god as if the homeowner as penitence. Then she added, "This area was covered with lovely old moss laden oak trees and they cleared them all because they didn't fit into 'the plan'."

Later as we were riding around, the topic came around to family furniture, closing out our parents' homes, and downsizing. One of the ladies lived in this planned community, one was in the process of buying a hone here, and a third one was very interested. Although the 70 degrees and sunshine as opposed to the January weather at home was tempting, Stepford housing was not for me.

My ears perked up when two of the ladies commented about giving away the family's silver. Why was I not surprised? And, folks want to know why southerners have issue with Florida being called part of the South?



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