"You're from New York, aren't you?" When I lived in New York no one ever asked me that question. When I moved to Florida, it was the most frequent question that was addressed to me.
It was sort of like when I was in Australia, but there it was a statement; "You're a Yank, aren't you?" every time I opened my mouth to talk Evidently, it is hard to blend into a crowd verbally when you are a New Yorker. Of course, when you are in Florida, every one is from somewhere else, except those rare beings who were actually born here.
Snow Birds, a common Florida type, are easy to spot. Just go to Pine Island and look. If the legs are pasty white, no matter which sex, that is a snow bird at the beginning of the migration. As the season progresses, they are harder to spot as their legs and necks get darker. You can still spot them by their complaints when the weather gets warm. "It's so hot here, I don't see how you stand it" is their common cry. That is a sign that they soon will be returning back north.
People who come from the mid-west are hard to spot. To me, there is not much difference in speech between those who come from Michigan or from Ohio. Those who come from Canada are a different matter. They have a strange manner of saying "about". To me, it always sounds like "ah-boot", but otherwise they are pleasant people. The only state below the Mason-Dixon line that doesn't have a distinctive accent is Florida. After a few years down here all but the older native Floridians start to sound the same.
I used to think that native American Indians all came from west of the Mississippi River, but now I find that, like the Pennsylvania Dutch, when they retired, they came to Florida like the rest of us. With them came the names for some of the Florida rivers. Withlacoochee, and Weeki Wachee are partly in the Chassahowitzka Refuge, which starts near Aripeka and is bounded on the west by Osowaw Blvd.
The Seminole Indians like this area, because it is here that they got revenge for Custer's raid on Little Big Horn. Here was a battle that the Indians won hands down in the massacre at Fort Dade.
Some Northeners like me, never knew that shrimp had heads till they came to Florida. In New York, shrimp always are pink, usually cooked, and generally a high ticket item on the menu. Here in Florida, they come from either the east coast or the Gulf coast. They come from stands along the road, or from fishing boats along the shore, and the seafood department of any supermarket.
Grapefruit in Florida, if you are lucky, usually come from the tree in your neighbors yard. With oranges, you soon get used to a choice between Navels or Valencias, or some of the more exotic names depending on sweetness or amount of juice.Tomatoes down here it seems to me, are either Ruskin or something else. The tomatoes going to New York from Florida are generally green and hard, "truck ripened" is what I call them.
A front yard lush with green grass is a big thing here, yet a closer look at my front yard reveals my St. Augustine grass most nearly resembles the crab grass that I used to have to pull out of the Kentucky Blue grass or the fescues that grew on my lawn in New York.
Another New York feature that I miss down here is the pothole. In Florida a pot hole in the road more than 2 inches deep calls for a special newspaper article, and the dispatch of a road crew. In New York, a six-inch or deeper pot-hole is commonplace. Sink holes, on the other hand, don't exist in New York. The only near-equivalent thing in New York is the massive excavations caused by utility crews right in the middle of a busy street.
Another thing New York doesn't have is the bag boy that carries your groceries from the supermarket to your car (God Bless them). The Supermarkets also seem, down here, to have a wonderful fixation on keeping things clean. And the Tax Office! A civil word from a tax clerk is unheard of in New York, while here there is not only a civil word, but also a smile to go with the payment of a tax bill. I don't miss the State Income Tax that I had to pay in New York, but I do revel in the Homestead Exemption that I have in Florida.
I marvel at the way that all cement trucks here are so spotlessly clean! All truck drivers here seem to take pride in the cleanliness of their vehicles in contrast to the dirty, graffiti-loaded trucks seen in New York. I also marvel at the county waste disposal sites down here. In new York they are called Dumps. They are marked by huge flocks of seagulls overhead, and a distinctive odor that permeates the air around them. Here in Spring Hill, everything is almost antiseptically clean, and you can even bring home with you fresh garden mulch at no cost.
I know that there are some things that Florida doesn't have: Snow and Ice, for one. Northeasters, those Long Island devastating storms, are not missed down here, but Floridas' Hurricanes are so well managed and prepared for that in most areas they are a minor consideration.
I guess, in sum total, I am glad that I am here, rather than being where I came from. I'll never be a real Floridian, but I will be happy to continue working towards that goal.
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