Sunday, December 24, 2023

A Florida Merry (Happy) Christmas

We're not quite like the Aussies here - you can't guarantee it'll be balmy enough for Christmas dinner on the beach and sadly it looks like rain tomorrow. But last night was warm and tropical and along with what seemed like half the town, I checked out the arboretum, where different groups decorate and light up the trees. It was an adventure, with kids running excitedly around and signs warning about trip hazards like cables. First, one of those "only in Florida" moments.

 The gazebo was nicely decorated with tasteful Christmas music emanating - I didn't hear "Frosty" once. 

Although it was rivalled by a decorated golf cart parked on the road blasting out some unrecognisable noise that might or might not have been Christmassy. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Here was our Golden Beach display, with the yellow historical marker and benches to watch the sunset.

The Lions' Club charity had an appropriate theme - and in the background some classic Florida Christmas Palms. Not so silly - palm trees must have figured in the First Christmas.

There seemed to be a bit of an animal theme.

Including Rudolph with his shiny nose. Natch.

Somehow there seemed to be fewer displays this year - there were almost more lights festooned on the onlookers - picking their way in the dark with the help of glowing garlands and flashing mobile phones than on the trees. Well that's an exaggeration. But I'm guessing the last couple of big hurricanes did for some of the trees. And where were the Nativity scenes? I'm sure there used to be at least one or two displays from the churches.

Walking back along the island roads, there was my old favourite the jetskiing Santa

With Prancer (or was it Dancer?) clinging onto the back.

Then in one of the Golden Beach front gardens - I might be wrong but there was something that did look remarkably like...

A Nativity scene!

Hooray for them and a very Happy (Merry) Christmas!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Festive Times at Golden Beach

 There's a certain something something about palm trees dressed up for Christmas ....

This year, our main shopping street, Venice Avenue looks even more spectacular than usual.

It seems that after the last two years' ravages thanks to Hurricanes Ian and Idalia, the trees have picked themselves up (probably not literally) and are happily strutting their stuff again. 

Now we're well into December I can just about stand hearing the Christmas music in the shops (shoppes,  as the estate agents like to say) so long as it's not Frosty the Snowman, or Winter Wonderland, or Rudolf, or the Little Drummer Boy, or Mary's Boychild (sorry) or..or. But I have to do the shoppes for stocking fillers (stuffers) for hubby as he hasn't yet discovered my favourite ones and I can get ahead of him. (One time I was in a gift shoppe and they started playing Bridge Over Troubled Water. Suddenly I realised that everyone of my vintage was humming along....a surreal moment.)

Meanwhile my kind neighbour donated some Christmas goodies. They did not last long and certainly not till Christmas. But we will have mince pies (mincemeat pies) courtesy of the internet.

But things have moved on since I came Stateside. A lot of shoppes now sell crackers and they actually call them crackers, not cracklers or crinklers or some other across-the-pond alteration. I remember when I was looking for crackers for my first Christmas up in rural western New York. I asked for them at the Party Shoppe. "No hon, you need the grocery store - in the cookie aisle", said the girl helpfully, "You can buy the cheese there too."

Everyone is in party mood, a lot of events, like parades and tree lightings resurrected this year. Also in party mood were some neighbours I saw from the beach. 

I was walking along early in the morning, when, just a few feet away, where there's a sharp drop-off, I heard what sounded like a sneeze and then another one. I looked round and there were two dolphins, gambolling so close I could almost have touched them. As usual they were too quick for me to get a photo of their glossy arced backs - though I did manage a fin...

(A visiting friend saw one once and screamed, 'Shark!' Seeing that pic you can understand why, although they move entirely differently). The dolphins gambolled up and down the beach for a good few minutes and then gambolled off about their business.

Earlier there was Thanksgiving and a family visit for which the French bakery Croissant and Co did us proud. 

Not exactly pumpkin pie but the guests didn't complain. There was also a small pumpkin pie to satisfy the traditionalists.

And in the evening a chance to sample the local pastime of watching the sunset. Not a very spectacular one on that day.

But fun all the same.

And on Black Friday we gave the shoppes a wide berth and went for a little alligator spotting in the park down the road. Yes it was only a little alligator but, hey, you don't get those in Ohio.

Followed by an excursion to the fishing pier from which - unusually for our relatively sedate town - we spotted a group on the beach with a large flag celebrating a certain former President stuck into the sand and a lady sporting a bikini with "Trump '24" on the top bit and "Maga", literally, on the bottom. If I had spotted similar attire promoting any of his rivals, I would of course have reported it in the interests of impartiality but unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately - I didn't. 

One beachgoer wasn't all that impressed...

If the recent sunsets haven't been that great, the dawns have made up for it.

I'm glad the family came when they did because now we're getting ready for Christmas with some chilly weather. And a storm sizeable enough to close the park by the South Jetty.  The rain lashed down and some poor soul visiting from the north drove into the intracoastal waterway, mistaking it for a road. He was saved by a gallant barman from the nearby Pop's Sunset Grill, who spotted the mishap and raced to get him out of his sinking car just in time. Today my morning walking friends and I donned woolly hats and gloves. The year-round residents just love the chance to do that. Not a frost exactly but a cutting wind. If you can't have a winter wonderland you can close your eyes and pretend