We’re Not in Kansas Anymore


There’s nothing quite like traveling to a warm climate to shake me right out of a winter funk.  My six word summary when I woke up in Arizona went something like this:  Palm trees.  Mountains. Penny’s in Heaven.
I can pretend I blend in the Midwest but I come alive in the Southwest.  Even though my skin immediately feels the effect of no moisture in the air or on the ground, my brain is busy recalling all the things that make this place so special to me.
First of all, it looks different.  From the architecture to the landscape to the weather to the collection of cultures, there is no mistaking we’re not in Kansas – or Iowa as the case may be – anymore. 
There is significantly less green and an absence altogether of white stuff.  This changes the predominant color scheme to adobe brown, auburn, copper, magenta and buttery yellow.  These are my kind of colors.  
Since I wear these colors all the time at home, Saturday I decided to sport pink shorts (traded in the pink coveralls) and an orange shirt, making me look like a sherbet ice cream cone. This ensemble combined with the fabulous flower powered sandals I purchased at the Swap Meet created a similar visual to the pink haired octogenarian I also spotted there with sparkly star earrings the size of her face, a purple track suit, and yellow tennis shoes selling Viagra or some promise of youth.
I try all my flamboyant fashion statements on vacation. Bob gently reminds me that my parents have peeps here and have to suffer the consequences of my questionable choices.  I remind him they have had to suffer these consequences my whole life which is why they’ve won the Parents of the Year award for fifty years running.
Another reason I love it here is because people can be outside almost any time of the year (they claim it’s a dry heat), so bike trails, hiking trails, golf courses, rugged outdoor outfitter stores, open air markets, concerts and parks for people and dogs abound.  Lemons, grapefruit, and oranges are ripe for the picking, tempting me to pluck one as innocently as an apple in front of Eve.
Life is full of fun and interesting activities in Sun City.  What’s not to love about being able to golf, swim, bowl, or bike for a buck?  Caveat:  you have to have your parents’ permission or at least their activity pass.  
Don’t even get me started about the things that go on in these “retirement” villages.  My parents and their friends have more fun in four months than I do in four years. 
It does my heart good to hang with these spunky folks because they seem to be on to something to the key to happiness.  The combination of community, connection, sunshine, warmth and access to all kinds of culture and activities keeps them vibrant and engaged.    
We tend to think it’s all downhill once we hit a certain age, but this annual visit to my parents reminds me that although we may not have a choice as to what happens to us, we have a choice as to how we respond and consequently age.  I, for one, would like to follow in their footsteps and age with grace, good humor, and great friends.  
Today we’re off to explore Prescott, a funky art town that makes me incredibly happy for reasons I’ll save for the next post.  

Wherever you find yourself today, I hope you treat yourself to an adventure.

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