Well well well, winter has subtly descended upon South Florida…at least for a day or so. Our nighttime temps fell into the 60’s. I rev’d up the heater last night just to take the edge off the slight nip in the air. This morning I dressed in long pants which proved to be uncomfortable and a bit annoying.
Climate is the one element that practically by itself defines South Florida and differentiates the state–at least this portion–from all others except perhaps Hawaii. It is the main topic of conversation—always—when there is an exchange between Floridians and those who live elsewhere. When strangers meet and it is determined one is from Florida the comments that follow will most certainly pertain to the weather. In this case, weather serves as the ice breaker to get the flow of conversation started. Yes, pun intended.
It is a unique experience living in this part of the country having spent the first 25 years of my life shivering on bus stop corners, scraping ice off windshields and wearing fur-lined leather gloves. Now I live less than 8 miles from Fort Lauderdale Beach, a destination that visitors will pay upwards of a $1000 or more for the opportunity of sinking their toes into the sand. I can do that anytime I want for the tossing of a few coins into a parking meter.
People born here do not understand the complexities of the weather as much as a transplant like me. Grass is a good example. One thing I noticed when I first moved here was how much thicker blades of grass blades are. In fact, leaves on plants and trees are sturdier, too. It’s mother nature’s response to withstanding the higher temperatures and exposure to sunlight.
Time is the element most influenced by the weather since I moved to South Florida. Disregarding hurricanes, there are no significant changes in the environment here due to the weather. Outside of the occasional, short-lived radical flexing in temperatures, such as we are experiencing right now, it is difficult to define winter, spring, summer and fall. The four seasons blend almost seamlessly. There is no annual sense of euphoria on that first balmy spring day following several months of harsh winter. There is no long winter’s night snuggling with a down-filled quilt when the air turns cold and crisp each fall. Here, the changes in the seasons are subtle and you actually don’t notice the transitions between them until you’ve become seasoned yourself to living here. Most folks don’t have two sets of clothes they interchange each year. Like snow shovels, gloves simply do not exist in South Florida.
The result of this weather-directed lifestyle is that one loses a sense of timing. When I lived in Pennsylvania it was easier to remember when things occurred. There, the time of year places benchmarks along your memory path and helps you to recall when events took place. In South Florida where the seasonal changes are not as noticeable, it is more difficult to remember when things happened.
I admit, I somewhat miss the seasons, especially fall. Football in 90˚ weather just isn’t right. I hasten—in fact, panic—to assure you that I do not enjoy winter and can just about tolerate temperatures much below 50˚. They say one’s blood thins the longer you live here and I have come to believe that.
For those who enjoy a white blanketing of snow or tossing another log on the fire, I toast you (another pun intended) happiness and warm feet. Me, I’ll take the warmer path, the shorts and t-shirts and the quiet hum of my air conditioner. And if I don’t know what time of year it is by looking out the window, I’ll check the calendar.