January 30, 2000
Back home, a winter snow and ice storm is battering the Washington, D.C., region -- closing airports and roadways.
Business regularly brings me here to Florida. Today, my business completed, I'd intended to head home. Instead, I spend a good part of the day meandering along the back roads of Florida's Indian River region as I wait out the storm up north.
The Indian River is located on Florida's East Coast about halfway between Jacksonville and Miami.
It's the heart of Florida's citrus-growing region. It's a tourist mecca, too, drawing snowbirds in search of clean beaches, warm water and a quiet lifestyle.
The region has grown more slowly than other parts of Florida's coast. And thus there are plenty of reminders of what the region looked like in earlier generations.
My drive brings me to the small town of Grant, about 10 miles south of Melbourne. The house at the top of this page and at the bottom was built in 1916. Today it's maintained by the Grant Historical Society.
The house sits on a point overlooking the Indian River. Sitting on the front porch, it's easy to see why earlier visitors were smitten with this place.
Like many Southern houses that were built before the advent of air conditioning, the house is only one room deep -- giving plenty of wall space for windows, to catch the cooling breezes off the water.
Dense groves of palm trees surround the place, too, offering shade from the sun that seems so welcome on a January afternoon -- but less so once summer arrives.
Further up Route 1, I come across a roadside orange grove. Its neat rows of trees overlook the bay beyond.
Next to the grove is a fruit stand. I leave the stand with a bag of oranges, each larger than a softball.
Further up the road, I take a walk through a deserted roadside park. Spanish Moss covers the trees along the paths. An armadillo waddles out of the woods. It spies me, and slinks back into the under brush.
And so I meander further up the road.
It's sunny and in the 80s here. Back home, it's in the 20s and it's raining.
I drive slowly.