In 1985, Hollywood star and director, Ron Howard, directed a film called ‘Cocoon.’ Its storyline: a group of aliens return to earth to retrieve cocoons containing the people they’d left behind from an earlier trip. These cocoons had been resting at the bottom of the ocean. Once retrieved, they stored these recovered cocoons in the swimming pool of a house they’d rented in a small Florida town. Their mission is hampered by a number of elderly people from a nearby retirement community who had been secretly using the pool, and who discover unusual powers from within these cocoons, the powers of rejuvenation.
Woodside, Florida is the town, but I write this narrative in whispered, hushed tones. No one in Woodside wants more people to hear about its amazing powers of restoration and rejuvenation.
Woodside is home to a lot of seniors, old people, people past their prime, people who we expect to be put out to pasture. But these citizens of Woodside haven’t heard that news bulletin. They don’t live that life. They creak out of bed each morning, and after coffee, they jump into their active and energetic day. Some hop on bikes to ride the low traffic town roads, others don sneakers and head out for very energized 5 mile walks, while others sit down at their easels, their desks, their kitchen tables and resume working on their creative outlets.
Let me tell you more about the special powers of Woodside , Florida by describing some examples of its citizenry. [ The people named in this post are completely fictional and in no way representative of any person in real life. ]
Jeanine Gebry Krispo is a published author. She publishes regular columns internationally in a European magazine and domestically in an American city newspaper. She is a raconteur of tremendously delightful tales, an active city councillor in a mid-NY state town and she presents arts talks about her literary craft in Woodside. She’s in her mid-70’s.
Diedre Mignon is an artist. She sketches in charcoal, draws with water colours and paints with oils and acrylics. Her works hang in local galleries and regularly sell in the hundreds of dollars. She also teaches her craft at a local art center where she has students, all seniors, registering to get into her crowded art courses. She’s 88.
Roslynne Gibert is a wine bistro owner who markets and promotes her wine bar very actively and very constructively. She works an art booth every week at the local farmers’ market where she dons her levis vest, her artistically emblazoned t-shirt and walks among the market’s visitors touting her bistro with invitations and welcoming explanations about her ‘pub.’ She’s 87.
Ted Trellis could be mistaken for a retired NFL lineman. Six feet plus, solid as a rock in build, he emcees a monthly meeting of budding and developing writers looking to hone their craft. Not only is he amazingly knowledgeable about the technological skills writers can employ but he himself is a very accomplished writer of poetry. His booming voice authoritatively moderates these meetings freezing attendees into attentive and enthralled listening. He’s 84.
Roxanna Pellewsky just published her safari reports from Africa where she trekked through the Savannah grasslands, the jungled swamps and the kiln hot deserts to collect the information for her book. The cover of her just published book displays an older looking, diminutive woman standing before the camera with a huge snake dangling down from her extended hand. She’s selling her book at library meetings in Woodside currently. She’s 94.
Rip Couchiching is an American vet, a former air plane mechanic, decorated and honoured as a dedicated veteran in his home mid-western American state. He started writing poetry when he was 12, in the early 1940’s. He was bullied so much he had to change elementary schools six times. He published his first book of poetry in the mid 1950’s. Since then he has published almost a dozen more. Today, he attends writers’ workshops and speaks at presentations to these audiences of writers. He’s got physical challenges but you’d never know it from his enthusiasm for his craft, his dedication to its publication and his active and energetic role as a writer in the community. He’s 88.
Finally, we come to Dick Spinnaker. He’s the ‘whipper snapper’ of the people here, the young ‘un. He’s not really a resident of Woodside for as a snowbird from Canada he can only visit for a part of the year before he gets into red tape issues with the USA DHS, you know of whom I speak. Dick has been publishing a website dedicated to assisting and informing seniors for nearly ten years. He’s a computer nerd who teaches and tutors mature adults in use of digital technology. He’s a photographer, digital graphics artist and a wannabe chef who should turn to yoga and gym instruction rather than spatula and ladle manipulation.
So you see, Woodside, Florida is a very special place. Ponce de Leon’s quest for the holy grail concluded in Woodside. Its waters may be de Leon’s fountain of youth as the residents of retirement age who live there haven’t heard the word many people give to old people, sit down in that chaise and be quiet. The seniors of Woodside are alive, kicking and living lives of youthful energy and vigour.