2009-12-31 / Editorial

Making the big schlep south

Flotsam and Jetsam
By Donna Drago

We made it. We enjoy the Jamestown climate in the warmer months, but as soon as the holidays are done, we make the annual southbound migration in search of still more warmth. Just like the ospreys, who are clearly smarter than us because they blow town well before the first blizzard of the year.

Being south is lovely. Getting south can be a pain in the neck!

I am reminded of the old George Carlin routine where he talks about having “stuff,” and trying to decide what smaller portion of your stuff you are going to take with you on vacation. Clearly, one can only take the stuff that fits within the confines of the car, but then they make trailers, U-Hauls and car-top carriers – just in case you have too much stuff.

I start sorting through my things early, trying to make some intelligent decisions about what to keep and what to leave behind. Of course, many of these decisions fall into the category of sentimental stuff versus practical stuff. Camera? Yes. Magazines I haven’t read yet? Maybe. Pictures of my grandson? Definitely!

Then there are the shoes. First, I have to figure out what clothes I am bringing, and then I have to make sure each outfit goes with something on my feet. Then I have to get serious and decide which of the pairs of shoes and boots actually fits in the luggage. My mantra in these times is: I can buy it when I get there. I don’t know why this is so important to me, especially when I wear flipfl ops 80 percent of the time.

We have made this same schlep south several times, so we actually have plenty of stuff – good stuff – in the other house. But somehow, I convince myself that my northern stuff is superior to my southern stuff and I have to have it all.

My husband’s philosophy about this sort of thing is quite different. If it fits in his computer bag, it comes. If it doesn’t, it stays. He’s so casual about this whole trip – it drives me crazy. He’s quite happy with his stuff in the south, he says smugly.

After several days of sorting my stuff, I have to turn my focus to the dogs. Dogs have stuff, too!

Two dogs equal more stuff. There’s the tandem leash, the individual leashes. The favorite dishes, cans of tennis balls, rawhide chews, food. Then there are their favorite mats that they lie on at night and their favorite pillows. Then there is the matter of bringing the dogs themselves – one in a crate because she will harass the other one, and one on the seat.

Stella, in the crate, actually has more room than Sky, who is on the seat. The problem for Sky is that much of my stuff is on the seat with him. Poor guy – he can barely turn his 80 pounds around. On our first trip south, we stopped to buy a television before we got to our house. The decision about which TV to buy was not based on brand or size or quality. It was solely based on what size box would fit in the car with all the stuff and the dog. Good thing we waited until we were close to the house – poor Sky rode the rest of the way with the box leaning up against him.

When we are finally packed and the targeted day is here, we get up at 2 a.m. and head out by 3. The dogs go back to sleep. Five hours pass before the dogs start to wake up and question our activities. They start to get restless. Stella is whining. It’s pouring, so we don’t want to have to stop yet.

When we do stop, before we can get the dogs out of the car, we have to rearrange all the stuff. Then we have to walk them, give them a snack and put them back. Then we have to rearrange all the stuff back around them.

On Route 95, we noticed many motorists pulled over and changing flat tires. Horrors! The thought of having to remove every snugly packed bag and the dogs, put them all out on the highway in the rain to get to the spare tire makes us shiver. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

After more than 17 hours on the road, we finally pull into our driveway. Everyone is sore and miserable and molded into the shape of the seat. We step outside and get our bearings.

It’s warm and there’s no snow.

The thoughts of the backed-up holiday traffic, whiny dogs and grimy rest stop bathrooms fade quickly away.

I know I will have to do this all again in a few months, but for now, me and my stuff are just going to enjoy our sweet southern home away from home.

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