There Are “Plans,” and Then There’s What Actually Happens
I heard the above saying last September during my birthday trip to the Grand Canyon. It was after that trip that I boldly made plans to avoid Canada’s winter by renting a house in sunny Arizona.
As I write this, I’ve been back in Kingston long enough to reflect on my disastrous first attempt at being a snowbird. What went wrong? I’d planned it all so carefully. Five days of driving 700 miles a day would get me to the warm, dry air of Green Valley, Arizona. My friend Barb would share the driving so that Sammy the Poodle could travel by car, not airplane. We’d take a generous break in the middle of the day for a leisurely meal and a trip to the local off-leash dog park.
Barb would stay for a brief holiday before flying back to Ontario. After that, Shirley, a fellow writer, would spend November with me while she wrote her book. My son and his family would arrive for Christmas. And so on it went, until April when it was time to get back in the car and return to Canada’s warm weather.
The rental house was perfect. It was a white stucco bungalow with generous guest space and a walled-in yard for Sammy. Afternoons I sat at my computer in the Arizona Room watching the late afternoon sky gradually turn mauve and pink. To my right was the sunset; to my left, the Santa Rita Mountains. Arizona wins the prize for great dog parks and, unlike northern parks, they have running water.
It wasn’t long before my well-laid plans began to fall apart. First, my book-writing colleague found herself involved in a family situation that demanded her physical presence with them.
Next, the Ontario Community College strike went on and on. This meant that staff and students would not be getting a full Christmas break. Since my son teaches at St. Lawrence College, he and his family would be in Kingston for the holiday and I’d be alone.
By now it was January. Other possible guests were delaying their visits. Worse, I was feeling more and more unhealthy. I felt sick … and depressed. I was alone and scared. There were no old friends and no family in Arizona. Clearly, this was not a good place for me.
By the time I gave up on my dream of spending the winter in the Arizona desert, I had become very sick. In fact, I could barely look after myself. It was warm and it was beautiful, but it certainly wasn’t doing me a lot of good. I needed to return to family and friends and to Canada’s health care system. And so, by the end of January, I was back in Ontario, toughing out the blizzards and the cold as I tried to recover my health.