We are presently staying in an official “Mobile Home Park” for snowbirds south of Sarasota, Florida. We usually stick to the forests, but those opportunities are slim to non-existent in the coming months. Hence, we set out to take a walk on the “mild” side to see if this more available venue was survivable with our pack. As we have a penchant for the privacy of perimeters, I hadn’t often ventured into the center of this community. Walking our dogs can set off a chorus of canines, our dog Bear turns into something from “Call of the Wild,” so we keep to the edges.
I came to Middle Earth today to wash and dry, and rub elbows with the locals from Ontario, Michigan and all points North. I soon realized I was sitting on the Axis Mundi of this Vagabond village. Two hundred or so sites are arranged in three concentric circles, dissected by an equidistant cross; a veritable Stonehenge of aluminum and fiberglass. I should have recognized the power inherent in this design, and the significance of the season. Early December marks the apex of Snowbirds migration here in SW Florida. I was unsuspecting witness to some of this flock’s winter nesting rituals.
At the center of this community lies a present day altar of sorts; two recycling containers and a huge trash compactor. Strangely enough, the latter had Mayan-esque sensibilities, as one had to ascend 5 steps, and raise the lid to reach the maw of the insatiable daemon. As in a scene from a sacrificial ceremony, each member of the community found themselves there daily, supplications in hand. I soon realized there was more at work here. As we all know, offerings are given with the expectation of reciprocity and this divinity didn’t disappoint. As I acclimated, I was able to see the pile of castoffs for what it is, the font of Sacred Stuff. It formed before my eyes.
Commencing with a TV cart, circa 1980 the altar was in place and the ceremony began in earnest. Some objects were proudly displayed, even arranged, like flowers at a funeral. “I don’t want it, but look how great it is!” Others were furtively dropped off, or casually tossed to the pile on the way to the compactor. Residents arrived instantly as called in by the pheromone of Free. It rolled like this: I leave “it” sitting conspicuously next to the trash. You come by on your bicycle, golf cart, or dog walk, and take it home. “Home,” being a vehicle with very limited floor space, and a yard smaller than motorcycle parking space. “It” could be just about anything that could have arrived by car, truck or 50 foot personal caravan. That possibility makes the plunder possible. Having been carried here, or been stored here over the summer, does not guarantee survival or retention. RVs are not built for excess, some days I’m not sure what they are built for, but that’s another post.
From my observation point, it was clear that these cardboard cartons standing open were a siren’s call, a “come hither” to pedestrians and car passengers alike. “It, ”might be a box of faux crystal glassware, seemingly a poor choice for moving mansions, one broken, one whole beach chair,( I’m curious about that story), two dusty wreaths adorned with beach finds and a tube TV with the positive message, “great pictur” taped to the front. Nothing unusual here, except for the quantity of joy and even avarice generated in passersby. From comments overheard in the laundry, I wouldn’t find it surprising to find some spouses out there on the pile.
I of course am not one of these people; I am merely waiting for my clothes to dry nearby. I only know the contents of the boxes because I found some trash in my car that needed to be discarded immediately and the boxes were on my path. I am actually not even old enough to be here in this Florida RV park, I have just thrown them off with my very light hair, white hair actually.
To add color, the box of glassware has been claimed. It has indeed passed right by my car window with its new owner, a 70 something lady with florid skin, who carried on a conversation with the box as she passed “If I can just get you home without breaking it…..” My point precisely. A gentle man on a bicycle has just stopped by to donate some nice latticework to the mix. I think I will donate my backpack beach chair to this alter. It’s a good, if bulky backpack, but a lousy beach chair, someone will LOVE it!