We just got back from our annual trip to Florida. We spent 12 glorious days, warming up our toes and our souls, and we’re ready to face what’s left of what I believe has been one of the most severe winters of recent history.

I can see why Ponce de Leon looked for the Fountain of Youth in Florida. He must have just spent a few weeks in southern Vermont in the early spring when he came upon the land of green leaves and surf sounds. He probably jogged the beaches and sipped margaritas, admired the skimpy bathing suits and chuckled over the inappropriate outfits worn by those who should have known better.

We take the cure in Hollywood Beach where lives one of my brothers, thereby providing an inexpensive spring break.

Hollywood Beach is not at all like most vacation spots in Florida in that it appeals to families rather than the eye-popping glamour of Miami Beach, just down the road…or beach. Hollywood Beach is very popular with French Canadians who regularly spend several months there right after Christmas, heading back north at Easter time.

They are a hardy lot. From our 14th floor vantage point we were endlessly fascinated by the activity on the beach below and the Canadians who were walking, biking, roller blading, or jogging at all hours and in all weather conditions. If we were winding up a party during the wee hours of the morning, I would check the scene below and always find someone moving along at an impressive clip, even at 2 a.m.

Although the weather was mostly perfect for the duration of our stay, there were a few days of high winds, and consequently high surf, yet out friends to the north would arrive early each day, laden with chairs and umbrellas, to take advantage of every bit of sun-laden air. They would come in large groups and spend a good deal of time setting up, arranging their canvas chairs in circles. Little tents would be installed for the babies to nap in. Coolers would be arranged. Children would be oiled up and creamed. The grandfathers would shepherd the tots down to water’s edge and there in the midst of squealing and shrieking, the kids and their elders would folic in the water for hours. Every few days, it seemed, someone would find something extraordinary in the water that would prompt everyone in the circle to run over to examine it.

Toward evening the shadows would start to crawl across the beach and the families would pack up, ready to leave, as the sun slipped always. A few would stay until early evening.

It’s truly a lovely scene. It’s all about families and it never ceases to warm my heart.

Our timing was perfect this year. As we headed back home up Route 30, we could see that the Retreat Meadows had large pools of water where there had been ice and fishing shacks just a few weeks ago.

My jump-start on spring worked and I’m ready for the next act of Weather in Vermont.