By O’Ceallaigh: –
For the past several years we’ve been packing up the mini-van and moving to Florida every fall. It all started when we were called to service several companies in the aftermath of hurricane Charley. We went to Polk County and upon arrival our cell phone was ringing non-stop! The first person we had to serve was Luc N.
“Dan, this is Luc,” the voice on the phone said, “When can you be here?”
What? I’m just now careening down the highway trying to avoid downed wires, flooded low spots, tree branches, aluminum carports and alligators! And you want to know when I can be there? I don’t even know where you are! I want to find a place to live first! I want to have a leisurely meal! I want…
“Dan, this is Luc!”
Luc was about three blocks off the highway from the very spot that we were dodging all that stuff! We exited and drove the three blocks to his little chicken operation. I don’t remember the name of his little fried chicken place, but we tagged it, “Charlie’s Chickens,” a blunt allusion to the name of the hurricane.
Do you want to hear about the mess we found Luc in?
I didn’t think so. It was not a pleasant sight – or smell! But Luc? Now there was a gentleman! When we complained that we had just arrived and had no place to stay yet, Luc said, “You can come to my house and stay! I have a big house on a lake and my wife would love to have you come!”
Luc was a refugee from Viet Nam. He left with the Americans when the war ended since he was an officer in the South, a test pilot for the South Vietnamese Air Force, and subject to capture and serious trouble if he remained. On arrival in California, he was given a pair of orange pants and $10.00 and told, “Good Luck!”
Now he owned his own little shop and home and his two daughters were in college. His wife and become a Ph.D and was gainfully employed.
Nonetheless, we explained that we couldn’t possibly stay with him since it would be considered an inappropriate conflict of interest. Luc understood.
When we finally concluded his issues and our business we went to his house to complete the paperwork.
Whoa! When he said big, he wasn’t kidding! This place was beautiful! Art, sculpture, wall hangings! Wall to wall tile! Opulent! Little Charley’s Chicken? Yup!
No welfare for Luc! He came here and began to work! He put everything into his new life and new country.
I was proud of Luc N!
We spent about three months in Florida that year and went home just after Thanksgiving. The work was hard and hot! But we had been bitten by the Florida bug, no pun intended!
So, we began frequenting the South, first in “The Tank,” and then in a small second home that … well, that doesn’t quite keep up with Luc’s house, but we love it. And the weather? It’s paradise!
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love New York weather – when I watch it from Florida! But there is a certain age when the dread of winter sets in and even the thought of cold causes one to shudder and wrap himself in ponchos or some other warm and comforting things and grab something warm to drink!
The other day as I walked around the tour of Ashville it was a stark reminder of all this. 28 degrees! It was 0600 (6AM for all you non military folks) and I had put on jeans, a pullover shirt, a fleece, my hoodie and a quilted shirt-jac besides. Then I had a cap, the one that says, “Giver me that Old-timer’s Religion” on my head and gloves on my hands.
I remembered why we were selling our home here and heading south. Autumn on Arbuckle Creek is much more appealing at my tender age. What with the Spanish moss, the Ibis’, the giant Ibis, too. Then, of course, the alligators and the cranes .
I like all the color, the seasonal change, the crispness; but that’s Autumn in New York.
There is, however, – life after New York!