meandf I’ve been meaning to post about my new neighborhood for months now, but in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, I have a whole new appreciation for it and decided it was high time.

As I’m sure many of you know, we are enjoying being right in the middle of urban life. I say “we,” referring to Frankie, of course. He goes everywhere with me these days and he does seem to enjoy it. Well, most of the time.

Learning about automatic doors and elevators gave him pause. And an umbrella opening or closing (or God forbid both, an action likely on a rainy day as people step indoors to dry off) can send him over the edge. In fact, I’ve learned he’s a bit of a nervous Nellie. But as Cesar Millan would say, he’s probably picking up on my anxiety about taking him in somewhere, say Publix, donning his official service dog vest, and watching him pee on a wooden display of pumpkins. (Didn’t happen. Almost happened, but didn’t happen.)

If he’s picking up on any nervousness I feel, my upbeat nature and general sense of well-being are also being transferred to him. He actually prances around Memorial Park (which he believes he owns) and usually draws comments from anyone passing by, “Well, isn’t he happy!”

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As you’ll see from the pictures, we are a power chair ride away from everything. Banking, shopping, restaurants and movies. Frankie’s even accompanied me to the Cummer Museum! But our favorite hangout is still Memorial Park. img_20160522_135423Hey, when even the squirrels know you, you’re home. Yes, I buy big bags of raw peanuts at Publix and several brave souls will actually take one right from my hand. Though Frankie finds lizard-chasing to be great sport, he couldn’t care less about squirrels. How close they come is not to be believed, so I took the picture to prove it. Frankie’s complete lack of interest is evidenced by the fact that he’s actually looking the other way.  

I’ve actually had the park’s creatures following me in the power chair. I lead the way for squirrels and pigeons (I refuse to feed them) like some kind of crippled Pied Piper or Cinderella story gone wrong. (You should know I detest the word “crippled,” but it seems to work for humor’s sake, so I’m not above using it.)

Needless to say, I was relieved to find the park unscathed by Matthew. With the exception of a lot of downed tree limbs and leaf debris, all the old Oaks were fine. The squirrels were still there too, hungry for handouts. Life and routine could and would return to normal. I remember Hurricane Andrew and know what it’s like to get lost in your own neighborhood, unrecognizable without the trees. This is what I thought about walking Frankie this past Saturday morning.

So, as you clean up your own yards and neighborhoods, take a moment or two to be grateful for the routine comfort of now. Because, to borrow a popular refrain, it could have been so much worse.water