Tuesday, October 16, 2007

City Girl Moves to the Country

My husband Al and I moved from the big city of Tampa, Florida to a small town in southwest Georgia with a population of less than 10,000. Our life changed overnight! I was 55, and Al was 57.
In Tampa we had been beach people and very avid scuba divers. We had spent many, many hours in our boat and underwater, scuba diving in the Gulf of Mexico. I was an avid underwater photographer and spent a ton of money on underwater cameras and accessories. We had lived in Florida for over 30 years and hadn't really discovered the beauty of the woods and the fall foliage until we took a short trip up to see the Georgia mountains. We were amazed by the beautiful fall foliage. This lead to several more trips to Georgia, and North Carolina during the fall. We soon learned that staying in a motel was not great, so we bought a pop-up camper. We fell in love with camping, nature and nature photography. We did a lot of camping through out the state of Florida. We did a lot of hiking, biking, and kayaking and always came back from "vacation" completely worn out. We have traveled to most of the state parks in Florida. At a later date I will post some photgraphs I have taken in our various trips to florida. I still love Florida. It is a beautiful state with lots to do. During this time we discovered how enjoying birdwatching was and I started taking photographs of the birds and all the other wildlife.

As we got more and more into nature and the woods, we decided we didn't like Tampa as much as before. It was discouraging seeing all the beautiful natural areas being torn down to put in yet another new subdivision. There was an area in Tampa that actually used to have a group of wild Flamingos. Of course they moved out when they built houses there. It was an incredible place that was ruined in the name of progress.
One day in March of 2006, we took off work for a 4 day weekend and drove north from Tampa looking for property to buy. We had been thinking of the north Florida area. I had kind of been thinking of taking an early retirement from the insurance company I had been working at. We wanted to move out of the big city, away from the traffic and into a more rural area. We had no idea where we wanted to go or exactly what we wanted. We just knew we wanted more nature and less concrete and cars. We had no clear idea of what size of of property we wanted but felt we'd know if if we saw it. We initially though of moving to north Florida, but somehow ended up in southwest Georgia. We found piece of property with a house on 11 acres and ended up buying the property that same weekend. We have always been impulsive people! There is a 4-5 acre fenced pasture area, and the entire place is surrounded by woods. I have always wanted a horse but as of yet do not have one. They are expensive, I hear. Our property is a nature lovers paradise. We ended up buying the property that same weekend and haven't looked back. We have a ton of birds which we feed well. They have fresh food and water every day and we try to protect them as best we can. We do have several families of Red Shouldered and Red Winged Hawks.

They prey on small mammals and rodents. We have cats but they stay inside and can't get to the birds and the Hawks can't get to them. A lot of people lose their small dogs and cats to these Hawks. They are super predators. I have a friend that almost her Yorkie to a hawk. She was walking it on a leash when the hawk swooped down and tried to grab her dog. She jerked the leash and dog away just in time. We also have a healthy squirrel population and Al has had his hands full keeping them from eating all the bird food. We have rabbits, Armadillos, foxes, deer, and a neighbors cat that comes to visit on occasion. We have Hummingbirds, Blue Birds, Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Wren's, Mockingbirds, Carolina Chickadees, House Finches, various woodpeckers and many other types of birds. It is now the fall migration time and have been seeing different kinds of birds. The hummingbirds are heading back south but we still have a few. I will miss these guys when they go.

We moved to the property last December and have been thru 3 different seasons. We have memories of our Bluebirds and their babies, our resident Mockingbird who was so mean we named him Ivan the Terrible. He fell in love, married Ivana, ate my strawberries and eventually had children. He was mellowed out by fatherhood and we ended up being very fond of him. We have seen several nests of Carolina Wrens hatch and grow up. We have 2 Carolina Wrens that spend every night in a silk flower basket we have hanging on our front porch. Every night like clockwork, they get into their beds first one then 5 minutes later the second one comes. We cannot move around on the porch at their bedtime or make any noise after they get into bed. That is a story for another day.

This is a story of a couple who met on the Island of Guam. I was 15, Al was 18. We were there with our Air Force Fathers during the height of the Vietnam war. We then moved back from Guam to Nebraska, started dating when I was 21, and married the next year. We decided to move, picked out Tampa on a map and packed up an moved to a state neither one of had ever been to. I told you, we were impulsive.