It's enough to make you want to take a winter vacation: Weather in the 20's today with a low of 18 predicted for tonight. And tonight I'll venture to Manhattan in that brutal cold to hear the beautiful Pamela Luss sing a little jazz in a club, with a rare appearance by her husband, my nephew Will Friedwald, as emcee. This means an oasis of warmth after walking 15 blocks to the PATH train--I may stop in a bar (or two) for a little red wine to warm my bones and break the trip. Returning home in the middle of the night I'll take a taxi from the subway once I get to Hoboken.
The vacay comes day after tomorrow. I've booked an adorable little furnished house on Pine Crest in Fairhope, Alabama, for the month of February, hoping for a more temperate climate and a warming trend in Hoboken when I return.
Most of you have read of my relationship to Fairhope. I have plugged my book about the utopian community for two years, and one or two of you have bought copies. It's where I grew up, left, returned, only to leave again more or less permanently in 2007. Fairhope is an upscale retirement community on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, with sunset views every evening and winter temperatures seldom getting below freezing. It was hit with the same arctic blast that almost devastated the citrus crops this year in January, but I am Photo by Robert Lee counting on that not happening again next month. In my experience such freakish weather events occur every 10 years or so.
Fairhope's sunny winters look better to me all the time from this perspective. I'm much happier living in Hoboken--which may be haunted but its ghosts, not being my ghosts, do not overwhelm me. But Fairhope is a nice place to visit.
I love living where there are four distinct seasons, even though one of them is winter, sure enough. I decided to see if I could shorten this one a month by visiting a familiar place where I can expect some chilly days, yes, but also probably at least a week where the thermometer doesn't go much below 75. I know enough not to predict the weather anyhere, but I can be sure in Fairhope it will be consistently warmer than here.
The rest I must prepare for. There is a sweet spirit in Fairhope, an innocence; a certain community spirit that attracts and holds newcomers. It is small-town USA. It is Southern, which means I will hear a lot about football and Fox News than I might be interested in. Because of its proximity to Mobile it will provide me with Moon Pies and Mardi Gras, both of which I am pretty adept at dodging. If you are not from the area, you won't understand this reference, but never mind. It's only important if you're planning a trip to Fairhope in February.
I shall put my mind to writing more seriously. The distractions of local sunsets, seafood, and visits with old friends aside, I will keep my days clear for some mental work. I am determined to get started on some literary projects, and minimize my blogs and my growing obsession with Facebook. On the other hand, it is a vacation, so if this plan doesn't go the way I'm saying I want it to, well, too bad. The trip will be a getaway.
Right now I'm in the throes of organizing, packing and anticipating. This is part of the fun of any vacation. I'm not there yet, but mentally I'm getting there. I can picture the little house, the little car I've resevered, the coffee at The Coffee Loft, the groceries I'll need to buy, and the nice warm air. There will be some blossoms already. There will be some Southern accents. It will a break from a harsh winter and the routine of my housebound days. I can take walks. I'll register at the Wellness Center of the hospital and will use it as I do the gym a few blocks away from my condo here.
I leave Monday and will return Monday March 1. I may post here occasionally or at my Fairhope blog". You'll find me if you look in one of these places, or at a café in Fairhope, signing books at Page & Palette, or on a pier watching a sunset. I'll be all over the place--and if you're looking for some words about Hoboken, this blog is full of them.