Personal Best: Fountain of youth found in Florida

Seniors' columnist Pat Black finds the weather, the atmosphere and the pace in Florida ideal for rejuvenating winter-weary bones.

  • May. 6, 2012 10:00 a.m.

Continuing dispatches from the east…I’m thinking Ponce De Leon did find the fountain of youth in south west Florida, not in any water bubbling from a magic spring but in the very essence of what this magical location offers. The hot sun diffused by the constant blowing of the fragrant ocean breezes offers old bones natural relief and a feeling of well being that produces a feeling of vitality. We still may be limping but there is a spring to our step and a lift to our spirit. Being able to swim in warm water every day certainly helps to combat severe arthritis as well.

I felt so good my last week in Florida that I managed to walk more than a mile, aided by my trusty walker, at one of my favourite everglades spots, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Audubon Center, one of the oldest nature preserves in Florida. Fourteen separate conservation organizations and the National Audubon Society consolidated this last stand of black cypress in America in 1954 to become this modern day 6,080 acre refuge, home for a great variety of plants, birds and animals of the everglades.

On our stroll along the boardwalk through the preserve we saw few birds and animals at this dry season of the year until we came to the Lettuce Lakes, only one large dark pond now, surrounded by cypress and vegetation. There the show began. Two large alligators, half submerged in the water, moved slowly scouting for fish while three small baby gators played in the roots of a nearby mangrove tree. Four large wood storks sat in the top of another cypress tree watching the shenanigans while a great blue heron and a great egret patrolled the shore, making limpkins and white ibis move out of their way.  Little blue herons, white and glossy ibis played to the audience and finally watching an alligator catching and chomping on a huge fish as the wood storks flew down to watch, ended this amazing performance. Bravo to all the players and those wonderful people at Corkscrew who keep it safe for all of us.

Today I am in Toronto where it is warm but overcast. Yesterday was sunny and bright as we watched the jays and cardinals flit in and out of the bushes from the back porch. A red and black squirrel played “king-of-the-castle” as one launched itself from a lilac branch to the top of the bird feeder knocking the other to the ground. Then the other would in turn repeat the process until they got tired and moved on.

I am staying at my son, Chris’s place, in Aurora, just north of Toronto. An idyllic location whose backyard backs on to a small well-treed park and has many birds as residents. Three anxious parents and a doggy grandma also watched the newest edition to our family, a three month old Kerry Blue puppy named Quincy, gambol about on the grass chasing a ball and trying to eat a stick. She reminded me of a little black lamb with her curly hair and huge black eyes that suck you in with their innocence and trust. She certainly has my attention and instant love. What fools we become for our dogs.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, some information recently discussed at City Council reminds us that most major banks have a policy to absorb or reduce bank charges for people over 60 years old. Some banks remove these charges automatically when you turn 60 and some do not. So check and see if you are being charged and if you are, see your bank representative to review their policy and have charges removed.

If you have comments or questions you can e-mail me at

Pat Black writes about seniors’ issues for The Morning Star.