I have learned something about myself since I moved from Long Island to Florida three years ago. Even though I own a home in Port St. Lucie just minutes from the ocean, an uncontrollable urge wells up to return to Long Island even as others make their way south. I guess I am a snowbird stuck in reverse. Instead of enjoying Florida’s mild winters, I willingly endure the harsh weather on Long Island, the place I called home for 65 years.
I’m like a migratory bird that has lost its sense of timing and direction, my wings flapping against reason.
So what makes me fly against the tide of snowbirds? The answer has a lot to do with my reluctance to give up the things that define who I am. Once I hear that the temperature on Long Island has dipped into the range of 40 to 50 degrees, I begin to long for the sight and crackling sound of a wood fire. I also yearn for the radiant display of colors — first in the fall trees, and then in the lights around homes and at Rockefeller Center. Floridians decorate, too, but can’t create the special feel of a New England winter.
I suppose the biggest reason I return is to celebrate the holidays with people I haven’t seen in months. What could be better than sitting with family and friends for a Thanksgiving turkey dinner with all the trimmings, or watching neighbors’ children excitedly open gifts on Christmas? Even the first snowfall seems special. I especially enjoy seeing a bright red cardinal perched on a snow-covered branch. (My wife and I spend winters at a retirement community in Ridge, and I’m grateful that I don’t have to shovel.)
While these simple pleasures are not unique to Long Island, they are some of the reasons I come back. Who says you can’t go home?
Reader Lou DeCaro, a retired teacher, lived for many years in Wading River.