Saturday, January 22, 2011
I have written before about our looong Floridian summers. About how we try so hard to live the outdoor life, faced with a seemingly endless parade of photo-opportunity days that give the lie to what is really a swamp-like climate. But the truth is that we spend all summer hiding out indoors in a sort of hibernating state. We go about our daily lives, moving sluggishly from air-conditioned homes to cars with matching temperatures and tinted windows - into shops, offices, malls and all manner of buildings with piped-in icy air where we take shelter from the invisible onslaught. Even then, the heat and humidity leave us damp before we can get from car to building. The only difference between night and day here is that the sun disappears. The temperature and humidity levels hardly change - it’s impossible to sleep without the air turned really low. Forget about cracking a window.
But now it’s winter – that most blessed time of year. This is our awakening, our spring, when we emerge from shelter and look around in wonder. In this upside-down world, winter is when we do our spring cleaning, when we fling open our windows and shake out the cobwebs – literally and figuratively.
We smile more broadly, breathe more deeply. We’re out and about in the sunshine. Look closely, you can see the tell-tale spring in our step.
Today the sun is shining, the sky is clear and the air is a fresh, crisp 68 °F. At last, a day at the beach is an exciting prospect. We can bask in the sun for hours (even though we shouldn’t ) without roasting and stewing in our own juices, while the brave among us can actually feel refreshed after a plunge in the Gulf of Mexico, at 61 °F. Even our friends the dolphins prefer Winter in these parts. Wherever you go you’ll hear locals agreeing with each other – isn’t this a gorgeous day? There’s a buzz in the air. We’re just so happy to be alive.
And when it’s really cold – yes, we do have the occasional night that gets down as low as 32 °F – it’s a thrill to dig out that gorgeous woollen suit, the jaunty hat and stylish scarf, the boots. Although we don’t own coats anymore. Everybody who makes their home here eventually gets rid of the bulky outer layers. Our winter clothes last for years and years. When you wear a jersey for a few days a year, it always looks new. We keep only the cutest things – and we never have to worry about dodging snow flakes when we wear them. It’s nice to be able to cover up and remember how many sins clothing can disguise!
Some of us pump up the heat and light the fires, but really it’s not necessary. We can unseal our homes and actually enjoy al fresco dining without mosquitos or sweat - pure unadulterated pleasure.
We profess to love summer – that’s exactly why so many of us live here – we wouldn’t choose a full-on snowbound northern winter over our summer. But in truth, we come alive when that season departs. There’s a whole segment of the population, the “snowbirds,” who live here in winter. They come from Canada and the mid-western states of this country. They drive down the the I-75 corridor to their winter home. When May brings with it the unmistakable hint of humidity, they pack their cars and head back up north, while we sigh.
We know that these blissful days are numbered. Summer is coming.