Snow Birds in Central Florida

We are officially “snow birds” in central Florida (and proud of it). For the last 3 years we have traveled to my parents’ old home in central Florida as soon as possible after New Year’s, and stayed until the first of April (that’s when it becomes very necessary to begin mowing up north).

No this isn't a "snow bird" I don't know what bird it is though, It is on top of a holly in our front yard
No this isn’t a “snow bird” I don’t know what bird it is though, It is on top of a holly in our front yard

Each year we have a goal for the Florida visit. Last year was to visit the Everglades and Key West (that’s about 5 and 8 hours drive from here respectively). The Snow Bird Agenda for this 3-month winter in Central Florida includes:

  •  rejuvenation landscaping of house — check
  • new mattress — check
  • new monitor for computer — check
  • shampoo wall-to-wall carpeting — check
  • purchase framed pictures at Habitat for Humanity ReStore — check

No this isn't a "snow bird" It is a Sandhill crane up close and personal!
No this isn’t a “snow bird” It is a Sandhill crane up close and personal!


  • Water new plantings every day for a month (!) as recommended by nursery where we bought them.
  • Prune the old plantings to stay in scale with the new ones and to rejuvenate their growth and vigor.
  • Paint pastels to replace pictures purchased at ReStore.

Rejuvenation Landscaping: We have an earlier post about our rejuvenation landscaping and what we learned about planting in central Florida’s sand. The existing plants are like iron, and I mean that more or less literally — when I went to prune them when we first arrived, I was left with bloody bruises up and down my arms where I tried to reach in the bushes and prune out dead and dying twigs and growth.

Snow bird chore: Even young ligustrums have tough leathery leaves with stems that need loppers to cut them!them!
Snow bird chore: Even young ligustrums have tough leathery leaves with stems that need loppers to cut them!

Pruning and Rose Gloves: So I went to the net and bought a pair of “rose gloves.” These are gloves with long sleeves to protect my forearms where I was being battered by the bushes.

rose gloves
rose gloves

And are they a blessing! I will be purchasing a pair when we get back to Maryland for that garden as well! I want to make this suggestion for all of us who are aging; our skin is a lot thinner and more delicate than when we were younger, and we need to protect it in ways we never had to when we were younger. These gloves allow me to go sleeveless on a hot day and still protect my forearms in the garden.

We will continue to report on the Florida garden’s progress as the days continue.

The Case for a New Mattress: Last year, from about February through May, I had a shoulder pain that wouldn’t go away. When I finally went to a physical therapist, it was diagnosed as a “shoulder impingement” (one bone rubbing on another) and took 3 months of intensive therapy to relieve it (but it never completely disappeared with just physical therapy). It wasn’t until I started observing how I was sleeping that I was completely relieved, by trying new ways to lie in bed and rest my arms and shoulders. So I thought that since the problem started when we were last in Florida, and the problem was relieved when I studied and changed the way I was sleeping, we would shop for a new mattress in Florida. The bed my parents left us was a bit rickety and soft, transmitting every toss and turn either of us made to the other, so it was TIME anyway. We purchased one of those new gel foam mattresses, and have found that sleeping on it is a dream.

optimum radiance
optimum radiance

Because the mattress cradles our bodies (allowing the body to sink into the mattress a certain amount), sometimes we have had to turn on a fan in the middle of the night to cool ourselves, but that is the only change we have had to make. And the comfort to our bodies is astounding! No soreness, no pain upon waking or throughout the day.

New Monitor: DH is the photographer for this blog and he needed a larger monitor than the portable’s built-in monitor to adjust his photos for the blog while we are snow birds in Florida. Enough said. Here’s a photo DH captured in the front yard last week:

Sandhill cranes don't migrate in Florida - they are a year-round treasure!
Sandhill cranes don’t migrate in Florida – they are a year-round treasure! Note the lawn kitch behind them — garden gnomes are here to stay.

Buy Framed Art and Change it Out: Since I don’t have my matting equipment down here to complete and frame my pastels (another pasttime that I haven’t told you about until now), I buy cheap framed and matted pictures at ReStore and tear out the pictures to reuse the frames and mats for my pastels. I have four frames to fill.  Pastels have to be framed and matted to protect their surfaces. They don’t set up like water colors, oils, or acrylics. They smudge if touched. They cannot touch the glass they are framed behind. So they have to be matted and ideally spaced away from the mat a small distance to catch the pastel dust should it fall off the painting while hanging (I use other pieces of mat board to place between the pastel and the mat).

Not a snow bird: Red shouldered hawk in pastel matted and ready to shove in a frame!
Not a snow bird: Red shouldered hawk in pastel matted and ready to shove in a frame!

So my guidance for today is go and buy a pair of rose gloves for gardening to protect your forearms, consider your mattress if you experience shoulder pain that won’t go away even with physical therapy, and go cheap for frames and mats. I would have spent more than $150 to have one pastel matted and framed at our local craft store, and the frame and mat to fit the 30 by 30 inch pastel was $25 at ReStore.

What advice can you give us about your experiences this last week or month or year? Please share and guide us…

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3 thoughts on “Snow Birds in Central Florida”

  1. Thanks! I mostly paint nature, landscapes or birds. Maybe DH will convert some of his photos of pastels so I can post some of them. Thanks for noticing and best to you!

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