“The palms are calling.” It was my sister, she arrived in Key West yesterday and already sounded more relaxed.
“I’ll be there soon,” was my reply.
Each year I agonize over my decision to maintain two homes. I am grateful and fortunate to have this dilemma. The Key West home houses a lot of pain. We purchased it for my husband’s retirement, but before we moved in, he had a serious fall while painting it. I spent our first winter caring for him, unaware that a rapacious cancer was consuming him. He would never live in Key West.
Still the breezes call me, their rustling sounds whisper about the beauty and tranquility of life in Key West. They remind me of the soothing, warm, moist air swirling around and through me. No more jackets between me and the outdoors.
Back at the Eastern Shore, I woke to another cold, dark morning. The dry heat emanating from vents did little to take out the chill. Stumbling down the stairs, I let my dogs into the yard, blasted by an assault of cold, damp air.
Although the sun rises between St Michaels and Key West are only 10 minutes apart, it feels like hours. In Key West the horizon is obscured by clouds that reflect and refract sunlight. Pink or pale-yellow lines outline the puffy gray clouds. As the sun rises, the horizon becomes infused with a warm pink and pale-yellow glow, and the sky becomes powder blue. The colors of the ocean form a complex dance with the sky as the deeper water is colored a cobalt or teal and shallow parts become aquamarine or pistachio. The waves reflect the sunlight like facets of a limitless diamond. On rare occasions their color dance gets out of step and they take the same color, appearing as an endless expanse of blue.
Back on the Eastern Shore, there was no sunrise today. It was damp and gray. The deciduous trees have become skeletons, evergreens sport a darker shade of green; the weeds are bent and brown. A cold breeze blew through my wool headband, my hands hid in my pockets.
The colors of Key West are blues and yellows and greens and pinks and white, and combinations that produce lavender, teals, aquamarines. The ocean depth, sunlight and clouds combine to present a myriad of cobalt, jadeite cerulean, teal, turquoise, beige, pistachio, aqua, tourmaline, bright blue palette of colors.
On the Eastern Shore it is the people who create color. The dazzling light display visible from Oak Street bridge continues to bring me joy. There are flying pigs, lights and wreaths everywhere. Bright, colorful displays abound in St Micheals to celebrate the holiday and bring warmth.
In Key West, I live outside. I bicycle everywhere.
Still I am reluctant to go. It is a long trip and I will miss my book clubs, my family and my friends here. I will miss my neighborhood and the warmth from the citizens of St. Michaels. My roots are forming here, and each time I leave, it feels like they are being ripped out.
As I write this, I turn up my fireplace, sit around the fire with my dogs on my lap. I hold them tightly trying to drown out the gentle rustling sounds that are calling me.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.