“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein
How many years does it take for a Yankee to become a Damn Yankee? Five years, ten years, fifteen years? Maybe it just takes putting up with the strange-looking and gigantic bugs that call north Florida their home.
Just a few weeks ago I was joking around with a friend who was moving north. She was born and raised in the south and now she was moving to the mountains of North Carolina. True, it’s not the same as moving to New Jersey, New York or Massachusetts, but still in all, North Carolina is up there. I told her she was going to become Northernized (my own word) and after living there, she probable won’t want to come back to sunny Florida. She turned and looked at me and said, “and you’re a damn Yankee”. Then she asked me if I knew what a damn Yankee was. I just laughed and said yes, “I moved here and stayed!”
But I began thinking, I’ve been here 21 years and this is the first time someone actually said that to me. I wonder if 20 years is the benchmark for becoming a damn Yankee?
I really don’t mind living here – but it took many years to get to that point. It definitely was a culture shock – moving from New York to Alachua. I’m not talking upstate New York, but the city. I was born in Manhattan, raised in the Bronx and moved to Long Island 13 years before moving to Florida. I used to commute from the Bronx to Manhattan to go to work. I worked in the garment district, for a company that imported woman’s knit clothes. When the buyers came into town, I modeled the clothes and got to keep everything I modeled. When buyers were not in town, I was a one girl office. Even when I moved to Long Island, although I no longer worked in Manhattan, I would go there quite often to catch a play or just study the architecture. When I went to study the architecture, I would go to Queens first and pick up my childhood friend. Then we would go into Manhattan and make a day of it with the kids. Walking from one end to the other. The summer before I left for Florida we did this three times a week. So being used to walking everywhere I thought nothing of sending my daughter next door or to the 7-11 to pick up an ingredient I was missing for dinner or a cake I had started. Here, it is a 10 mile trip – one way – to the grocery store. I quickly learned to either abandon the thought of whipping up something at the spur of the moment, or making sure I was stocked up on staples, for those last-minute deserts.
My wonderful husband took this dilemma of mine one step further. He thought it would be a good idea to raise chickens, so I would never be out of eggs. He fixed the little play house in the back specifically for the barred rock chickens he bought. He put some 5 gallon buckets on their sides and stuffed them with hay. Now the chickens had a comfy place to lay their eggs. Only thing was, no one told the chickens they were supposed to us the buckets to lay their eggs in. Eventually they figured it out and collecting the eggs became easy.
Next, to prevent us from running out of milk, he got a couple of Nubian goats for me to milk. I thought my idea of powdered milk was a much better idea. Anyway, I learned how to milk goats, and how to process and store the milk. As a matter of fact, I actually began to like goat milk – you know – the fresh kind – not the pasteurized, cardboard boxed kind. That tastes nothing like the real thing.