Mitt Rom-ney owns five houses but I would only need four. If I was a multi-millionaire, I’d have a glass-fronted beach house in Florida for the winter, a sprawling gray-shingled cottage on Cape Cod for spring, a log house tucked into a mountain valley in Wyoming for the summer and a lodge on a lake in Minnesota for the fall.
I love all the seasons. I used to love winter equally with the others but not as much since I’m older. I reveled in watching great snowstorms swoop down, gazing at the endlessly falling flakes by the street light, marveling at the high swirly drifts left behind by the wind. I relished being warm and cozy in the house while listening to the radio to hear all the cancellations — God giving us a holiday whether we wanted one or not. Guiltlessly, baking bread and playing Scrabble and reading a book while the car stayed piled with snow and the urgent report at the office went untyped.
But now, I’m more attuned to the discomfort and inconvenience of winter so, like so many others, if I had a choice, I’d bail for warmth and palm trees and golden beaches instead.
Cape Cod is capable of some unpredictable weather in early spring when the ocean crashes against the sea walls and the wind is bitter from across the water. But mostly, I think of masses of multi-colored hydrangeas and walking barefoot in the sand looking for shells and graceful sailboats plying the sound and vast mud flats when the tide is out, leaving puddles filled with exotic aquatic life.
You have to leave the Cape in the summer because it brings with it hordes of tourists so that roads are clogged and parking lots are full and restaurants are jammed. Too many people.
So it is a good time to hightail it to the isolated log house in Wyoming where the only view is of rolling grasslands rising into pine-covered mountains. If you’re lucky, you’ll see eagles soaring and buzzards circling high in the sky and bear and elk and big-horn sheep and maybe even a herd of wild horses. Perhaps you’ll hear the thrilling sound of wolves howling, though the horses and the wolves become less likely with every passing year as we continue our war against those useless creatures. Horses eat grass cows could eat; wolves might eat the cow itself and we can’t have that.
And finally, fall in Minnesota. Crystal clear lakes and jewel-toned trees massed on the hills. Crimson and copper and bronze and gilt and magenta, punctuated by the predictability of the unchanging evergreens. Lazing in an Adirondack chair on a pier poking out into the water, grateful for a warm autumn sun. Watching great lines of honking geese, doing what I will do (when I’m rich), heading for warmer climes before the brutalities of winter set in. Perhaps I’d have a lazy fishing pole in my hand but it would more likely be a Kindle.
Sigh. The reality is that I’m still waiting to get rich and the chances are I’ll spend the rest of my life – winter, spring, summer and fall — right here in a small town in Indiana.
Vicki Williams is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached through the newspaper at firstname.lastname@example.org.