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 “Hear! Hear! Screamed the jay from a neighboring tree, where I had heard a tittering for some time, “winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel if you know where to look for it.” — Henry David Thoreau.

The pier through the trees at Manatee Hammocks RV Park in Titusville, Florida. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Florida scrub jay -- Photo by Pat Bean

I’m sitting by a bank of third-floor windows looking out past naked tree branches at a dull Chicago day in which snow has been forecast.

It’s quite different from the Texas Gulf Coast I left behind. According to today’s weather report, it’s 77 degrees and raining in Lake Jackson. I hope someone remembered to shut the windows in my RV and turn on the air conditioner for Maggie.

Actually I’m sure they – my son, Lewis, and his wife, Karen – did. Karen just texted me that Maggie had a nice walk this morning and shared their steak dinner yesterday evening.

I left Maggie behind to fly into Chicago for a week to visit my youngest son, Michael.

Thinking about my two-and-a-half-hour flight from one climate to another got me thinking about the winters of my past.

Oranges just outside my RV door. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I grew up in Dallas, where we might get a bit of snow that stayed on the ground less than a day. Then there was Texas’ Gulf Coast where the world stayed green through the winter, and a rare half-inch of snow maybe once every 10 years shut down schools.

In January, 1971, I moved to Northern Utah, where I didn’t see ground beneath the snow that year until early April. I took up skiing and came to love the snow.

Since retiring in 2004, winters have mostly been spent on the Texas Gulf Coast, although I did spend one December in Guam, and one entire winter in Florida.

That winter in Florida, while my friends back in Utah were buried in snow, I was seeking out shady spots – and getting a good look at my first Florida scrub jay, a bird that can be found only in Florida – and only in one small portion of the state.

I saw the bird on a tour that was part of the Titusville Bird Festival. For the week I spent in this area adjacent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, I stayed at the Manatee Hammocks RV Park. It was a delightful place where I could pick fresh oranges just outside my RV door.

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