We’re often accused of retiring to an island paradise, and it is. However the winter months (January through March for you southerners) rarely bring us calm seas, swimming on sandy beaches, natural swimming pools, and pleasant breezes. As February wanes, temperatures in the evening drop to low teens (Celsius) and our Heritage wood stove takes the edge off the chill.
I think I am getting more acclimated to the island. I accept the winter chills, rains, high winds, and empty beaches as part of life, just like the thousands of Azoreans who are born and raised here. Charles Darwin, when he visited Terceira on his way home aboard the HMS Beagle, recorded the utilitarian lifestyle of residents here….they enjoy life, make the most of the work and fun, and accept the weather, the seasons, and enjoy family, friends, and faith. So here I am, retired and settled here, and surrounded by ancestors of Darwin’s subjects.
So as I build a fire each evening (shades of Boy Scouts and Camp Northwoods with Leroy et al building campfires, splitting wood, sharpening knives and axes) I am learning to quit comparing to other things and places in my life. This is where I am, this is what I’ve chosen, and this is what I will enjoy. I don’t compare it with life in the greater Washington DC area, rural and urban life in Michigan, and a small cabin near International Falls Minnesota in the winter. Like my new neighbors, accept life, make the best of it, and enjoy it.
For example, I’ve learned yet another thing…having a weather station that measures rainfall, winds and temperatures hasn’t turned out to be terribly useful. I’ve learned that weather stations are tantamount to comparisons; other days, other locations, or conditions. I’m reminded of my family’s great consternation when I was touring on motorcycles throughout North America, South America, Europe and Africa. I would watch the weather before I rode…much to the amazement of friends and family. “You’re going to go, even through storms, snow, hurricanes, and blazing hot deserts, so why watch the weather reports?” Took me about 50 years, but I can finally see their point. I would tell my “pillion” riders…”if it’s raining, don’t think about being at home in front of a fireplace. You’ll be miserable.”
I was right! (Gasp:)) Like a winter day on Terceira, I have learned that if you compare a cold, rainy, day to a tropical paradise on a beach, you’ll likely be miserable. But when I look at the great friends, family, food, drink, grass and trees blowing, waves crashing, then I’m happy.
I like being happy in retirement!