From Philly to Florida
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Apologies for being AWOL on my blog here for the past several weeks. The month of February was largely consumed by...three guesses...yes, snow shoveling. Here in eastern Pennsylvania, it snowed and it snowed. And it snowed. And, being one of those guys who believes only weenie men hire other men to cut their grass and shovel their driveways, I pretty much made a full-time job out of snow removal. It was fun up to a point. Man against nature, mano a mano, and all that. And then I began rationalizing it as a way to stay fit without joining a gym. Screw the Stairmaster; I had Snowmaster. In the final days, I just gave in and did as my father used to do: offered up my agony to the poor souls in purgatory.
In the midst of the February blizzard month, I got the great idea of a South Florida getaway. It is where Jenny and I spent twelve years of our lives and where all three of our kids were born. Of course, the night before we were supposed to fly out, yet more snow hit. A lot more. I spent five hours plowing and shoveling, getting my tractor stuck (and stuck good) twice. But I did manage to dig us out, and at 6:30 the next morning we were on our way to Philadelphia International Airport, the only car on the road. The computer said our flight was on schedule; and so did an airline rep I reached by phone. We arrived at the airport and were overjoyed to find not a single person in line at security. Our lucky day! Then we got to the gate and I found out why. Our 10 a.m. flight was still sitting in Orlando. The crew was stranded in Pittsburgh. And all runways in Philadelphia were closed. The whole family tried to be philosophical about it. Hey, in every life a few snow emergencies must fall. Scrabble, anyone?
We made it to West Palm Beach six hours late (not bad, considering), and burst out of the airport doors to enjoy the balmy tropical air. Whoa! Retreat! An icy blast greeted us, more worthy of Boston than Boca. Suffice it to say we didn't do a lot of swimming or even sunbathing during our chilly five-day stay, but we did see a lot of old, great friends and had a lot of fun. We visited our old houses in West Palm Beach and Boa Raton and other spots that I described in Marley & Me. I showed the kids where Marley fouled the public beach and where the neighbor girl was stabbed. We went by their old school and favorite park. I didn't know teenagers were capable of such nostalgia. And on the warmest day -- a respectable high of 67 but with biting winds -- all three kids and I threw hypothermia to the wind and went body surfing. Freezing but great fun. When we woke on our last day in Florida, the thermometer read 42 degrees; a few hours later when we landed in Philadelphia, the thermometer read.... this is not a misprint.... 42 degrees.
And now March is here and hints of spring. I spotted my first swamp cabbage popping out of the ground in the marsh, and the forsythia and cherry branches I cut last week and brought inside just burst into glorious bloom. My mother used to force blooms each year in late winter, and now I do, too. And every time I do, I think of her.
I've also been keeping fairly busy on the author front. Last week I participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Philadelphia Free Library and One Film, One Philadelphia. Our topic was books that have been made into movies. I told the story of how I learned 20th Century Fox wanted to turn my book into a movie (while standing in a parking lot in Stuart, Florida), and how the process went (about as smoothly as any author could hope for). On Friday I spoke to two groups of children at Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, PA, not far from my home. And the day before that I signed copies of my book at the Moravian Book Shop (www.moravianbookshop.com), which continues to offer signed and personalized copies of all of my books for shipping anywhere in the world. On March 16, I will be in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to speak at a fund-raiser breakfast for Erin's House for Grieving Children. It's a great group that helps a lot of kids who have lost a parent or sibling, and I'm looking forward to speaking there. Come on out if you're in the area.
And finally, my latest illustrated children's book, Marley and the Kittens, is coming off the printing presses as I write this and will be in bookstores late next month. More on that as we get closer.
Happy Almost Spring, everyone. We earned this one.
posted by John Grogan at 9:06 PM