Just a few more days, and I will be back in Eleuthera! Christmas is over, Sarah left today to head back to Washington, and I am slowly taking down the decorations. Think I’ll drop a few of the unused candle holders off at Goodwill: I seem to be subscribing to the ‘less is more’ philosphy even in my holiday décor.
Or maybe I’m just getting ready for a return to Eleuthera. I am looking forward to even more simplification in my life—after all, what is my island home if I take the complications of my Northern Michigan existence with me? In Tarpum Bay I don’t need a snow shovel, lots of fancy food, or even a car. In fact, I’ve packed my two new possessions: a new coffee pot and a beach chair, and those—along with my laptop, my iTouch and some art supplies—will bring me three months of pleasure and creativity.
Yet in a way I am almost reluctant to leave. This morning I listened to naturalist Max Old Bear talk about winter: how snow insulates and protects, how ice warms the lakes and keeps them alive, how the creatures of the Northern woods survive these long months. “Snow birds”, said Old Bear, “are the most amazing. Those chickadees: they feed voraciously, mysteriously hide somewhere during the stormy cold nights, and return again to greet each new day. THEY are the snow birds, living with courage and daring. The others, the white-skinned Michigan residents who head to Florida, are the ‘snow fleas’.
And so I am a snow flea. I am fleeing Michigan’s grey skies, crowded closets, unwanted telephone solicitations, junk mail, and my heavy overcoat and ugly boots. Or maybe it’s a migration. Like the Red Knot sandpiper that Max Old Bear described today, I will travel long distances to find the place that renews and restores me.
Whatever it’s called, I know it’s time to go.