It is Thursday, December 1, 2011. I am bound for Orlando, Florida. Two hours from departing Westchester County Airport, I arrive.
So much to tell; so little time.
I arrive with hope and promise--hope for the next two months to be enjoyable and fun and fruitful; promise for ride from airport to my rental in The Villages, Florida.
But alas, I am forgotten.
My ride, her name is Gail, is not here.
I worry is she okay.
Turns out Gail is fine. She simply lost track of time and forgot what time it is; what day of the week it is, what month.
There is a shuttle bus. It runs from Orlando direct to The Villages.
I stand on A deck, Aisle 15/16, and wait.
It is 2:45 p.m. and right on time, here it is.
I pay $35, tip $5, and get on board.
Ozzie, friendly driver, says sit up front along side me.
Ozzie says he moved to The Villages six years ago, announces proudly three weeks ago he turned age 75, adding he's grandfather to six and great grandfather to three.
Ozzie's got two sons, ages 44 and 46 and daughter, age 53.
Speed limit on Route 4 is 70 mph. I adjust my seat belt and ask can I take your photo.
I say Ozzie I got a blog, I want to write about The Villages, tell my friends about The Friendliest Place in Florida. Is it okay if I put your photo on the internet.
Ozzie smiles and says yes.
Ozzie hails from Staten Island, is retired tractor trailer driver. He tells how it was a friend who told him about The Villages back in 2007, or was it 2006? Sorry, I don't remember.
Ozzie says he was living in Weston at the time and belonged to a church when his friend called saying "There's no place like The Villages, you got to come for a visit."
He says his friend told him, "I can't tell you about it. Really. You have to see it to believe it."
Ozzie likes living in The Villages so much he says since moving here, he's talked four more couples from his old congregation into moving here.
Ozzie says, "The pastor is mad at me."
I am checked into my house, the cozy villa I rented for month of December.
It is 6:00 p.m. and there is a knock on my door.
My friend, Gail, the lady who forgot to pick me up at the airport insists on taking me out for dinner, she says she is sorry, she says she wants to make it up to me, she says there is the Christmas tree lighting and celebration at Sumter Square.
I am tired. I want to shower. I want to read. I want to journal. I want to sit quiet and meditate.
Reluctantly, I say yes. And before I know it, I am out the door, passenger in her golf cart the color of yellow, and loving every minute.
Oh, and did I forget to mention here in The Villages the mode of transportation is golf cart?
Think Mr. MaGoo.
Sumter Square is dazzling in white lights. A tall tree, 50' at least, awaits a flick of switch to welcome the Holiday Season.
People are everywhere and working through the crowd to see the tall blue spruce is a huge feat. It is worse than locating a parking space for Gail's golf cart.
But interesting, despite crowds numbering thousands, there is no pushing, no shoving, no vying for space.
There is a happy joyful camaraderie among friendly strangers sharing good cheer.
This is Linda Della Donna saying Goodnight.
Tomorrow is another day.
See you in print.
Here are a few photos.
Hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did snapping them.
|View from Jet Blue Flight 593|
|Meet Ozzie from Staten Island, The Villages Shuttle Bus Driver|
|Home Sweet Home, for month of December 2011|
|Meet Eleanor. Eleanor celebrates 90th birthday December 31. Happy Birthday, Eleanor!|
|That's Gail looking up at the tree and Eleanor's daughter, Eleanor, standing to the right.|
|The tree is lit!|
|Yours truly holding hands with Santa's Elf.|
|Look at all those golf carts!|