Recently I returned from visiting my siblings in a place called “The Villages” (watch out for the song if you click on that link,) in Florida. It is an amazing place, the fantasy of a very smart man who conceived of it, bought the land and began developing it with an un-thwarted vision in the late 1980’s. He imagined town squares (villages) with single family senior houses and one story condos surrounding these villages, with parks, golf courses and clubs. He started with the first village and made certain that all the amenities were in before he began selling. Today “The Villages” has 80,000 residents, and is expected to top out at 120,000.
Visiting there is both entertaining and scary in a Stepford-ville sort of way. The lawns are as clipped and pruned as the silver haired residents, the traffic (yes, there too,) is hindered by thousands of golf carts going golfing, grocery shopping, to movies, and to the thousands of classes that are offered. The monthly activities booklet that goes to all residents is an inch thick, no exaggeration! One can study foreign languages, take segway riding lessons or join one of the ladies’ book groups discussing The Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux, while the men discuss The Last Stand by Nathaniel Philbrick. It was gratifying to see that they put down the golf clubs long enough to read and discuss books. Yea seniors!
There are 24 executive golf courses and 9 championship courses, a full-blown polo field with weekly polo matches, there are 27 country/recreation clubs with fitness rooms, exercise rooms, and function rooms with kitchens to entertain visiting families. They have thought of everything! They thought of everything except how to control the weather and the bugs! It is hot hot hot and humid, and being located in central Florida, there is no sea breeze. And I came back with bites from unidentified flying insect objects which took six weeks to go away and four weeks to stop itching.
I came back appreciating once again the thing I love most about California cities: the weather. The mild winters and the glorious summers with dry heat, and no bugs to speak of. No crawling scorpions, june bugs, tarantulas, gigantic mosquitos, or the flying menace that bit me, no chiggers to bite when you walk through the grass or alligators that surprise you on your morning walk.
Happy to be in California, and reading Laurel Canyon by Michael Walker– just in the interest of reinforcing all the good feelings.