A Very Florida Winter

“I want to go outside.”

Peering out, I said tentatively, “Um. Ok.”

My six year old peered out too, seemingly questioning his own resolve. He thought for a moment and then said, “Mommy, why is it cold when the sun is out?”

“I dunno baby. It just is. …Well, actually, the sun is further from us in the winter time, so its not warming us as well.”

Blank stare. Maybe he was trying to make sense of what I meant. Maybe he already knew about our planet’s rotation. Maybe he thought I was utterly insane to be dreaming up such crap.

“My hands are going to be cold you know…”

“I know. I don’t have any gloves. …How about some socks?”

Again with the blank stare. I’ll take that as a no.

“Hey, I know what will keep you warm! How about a scarf?!” (Now there’s a novelty.) ” Scarves always keep me extra toasty.” I pulled the one I was wearing off, already feeling a chill. “Try this on.”

“Um… its a little… scratchy…” Wow. I thought about it and I wasn’t even sure he had ever worn a scarf before.

“Ok!” I said snapping it back from him and re-wrapping it around my neck, “Let’s find you one that’s less scratchy.”

img_0826-copySo, after fumbling around in my closet, I found one. Perfect. Nice and big and warm. A pashmina. I tied it around and around his neck, helped him into his coat and baseball hat and, with a giggle, he pulled open the door and went out to brave the high 40 degree weather.

This, my friends, is how we handle harsh, unforgiving Florida winters.

The shame.

Don’t you understand people? I lived in Massachusetts for 12 years. 12 years of snowdrifts blown up past my windows, gray skies and gray earth, bone-rattling, skin chapping wind, and days that if they hit double digits were considered “balmy”. While pregnant with this very same six year old, I remember scrambling up over 6 foot piles of snow to get into the street so that I could catch my bus. I knew winter. I lived winter. I ate it for breakfast.

And now look at me.

These past few nights, the temperatures have dared to dip below freezing and Florida folks – which includes your truly – have got their flip flops in a bunch.

img_0828Do you know what happens when it gets below freezing here? People wrap up their plants. I’m not kidding. They pull all their bedding out and then clothes pin blankets and sheets around their delicate palms and banana trees. The guy across the street from me has this insane contraption set up right now. He has pinned together a tent over his palm and has placed a ladder underneath with a heating lap attached to it and cords running all over the yard for power. That sucker is on all night, willing those fragile leaves not to freeze.

And any plants I could possibly bring indoors, I have.

NOT THE PLANTS, SPARE THE SWEET INNOCENT SUCCULENT PLANTS!img_0827

However rightly so, the fruit growers are in a panic. They spend nights maintaining the sprinklers so that a thin coat of ice forms on the oranges and strawberries and other native yummies – the ice keeps their temperatures at freezing. Any lower and the fruits will be lost which is BAD news for our farmers.

I heard about these iguanas a little further south of here that are falling from the trees, in a metabolically frozen state. But, if you read the linked article, warnings have been issued asking Floridians not to pick up these iguanas because once they warm up enough, they will spring to life very quickly. I guess some guy went around collecting them, putting them in his truck, when they all revived themselves and crawled all over him while he was driving.

On the news this morning, I heard about sea turtles that have been washing up, in the same frozen state as those iguanas, unable to move from the cold. They are being picked up and brought to aquariums so that they aren’t harmed. I can practically see the collective “WTF” thought bubbles floating above their little turtle heads.

There was frost on the grass the other morning. My kids were wide-eyed. I was wide-eyed. My husband, also wide-eyed, took kick-ass pictures of said frost. He who spent his entire childhood in Connecticut, waking early for outdoor hockey practices. He too was amazed by this wondrous, frosty frost.

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And yes we have heat in our homes – but it is hardly efficient. It haphazardly blasts away into these cavernous homes which were designed to keep homes cool with vaulted ceilings, tile and wood floors and open floor plans. So we are bundled under the few remaining blankets (not already pinned around our outdoor plants), wrapped in pashminas, cowering in homes that just don’t DO cold.

Back to those pashminas. You should see my cold wardrobe. WAY out of date sweaters and cheezy jackets that were cool in 1999 (a DECADE ago). No gloves (but we do have socks), no hats (well, not the warm kind, just the keep sun off your face kind), one decent scarf that my mother in law JUST sent me for Christmas and a pile of pashminas. Oh and my husband has an AWESOME collection of “Cosby sweaters” with bright bold colors and patterns circa 1993. My kids have some jeans and sweaters and one good fleece each – but we’re doing a hell of a lot of laundry in these parts.

Because why would I buy a winter wardrobe? This will be over in a matter of weeks. So we’ll tough it out. Because we’re stoic like that. Your sympathy and understanding are much appreciated.

*Holding hands over warm laptop keyboard*

We’ll get through this.

*Shuddering sigh*

Somehow.

So yeah. Winter in Florida is simply a bit silly. We are so used to avoiding heat that we aren’t sure where to find it when we actually need it.

I heard it might snow tonight in the Orlando area. As I stare out into the bitter night, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for pigs flying by too.

(But for real though. You want to see REAL winter? Drop on by my friend Becky’s blog at Deep Muck, Big Rake and check out her pictures of life in Iowa. She used to be a Tampa resident and moved north over a year ago. Floridians rally. They do. When they absolutely -ugh, I guess I have to put the flip flops back in the closet- HAVE to. Stay warm Becky. You make us proud!)

4 comments ↓

#1 robyn on 01.08.10 at 2:56 pm

The winter before I moved to Florida, I lived in Philadelphia. I survived the Blizzard of ’96. I drove and walked through 72″ of snow from Oct – Mar. And this week has broken me. My body just isn’t used to it. What you say about our homes not being heat-efficient or made for this is so true!

But now when everyone wants to make fun of us and counter with their negative windchill, we can quote this. SCIENCE!

http://www.wesh.com/video/22123844/index.html

Our Floridian bodies, even if you used to live up north, aren’t able to adequately process the cold. And “cold” here is COLDER than there, regardless of thermometer. So nyah-nyah. “Ask Dr. Science! He knows more than you do.”

#2 Cami on 01.08.10 at 5:44 pm

I love the take on FL winter. I lived in MA for 31 years, then braved the Chicago winter before moving to Mexico City. I don’t think I’ve ever been as much of a whiner as I am now about the cold. BUT IT’S FREAKING FREEZING HERE!! I’m not kidding. And we don’t have heat to warm us up. My hands and feet have been frozen all day and they don’t ever get warm without a shower or being layered by two blankets. I’m wearing fuzzy socks, slippers, pants, a long sweater, short-sleeved shirt, long-sleeved summer sweater, an alpaca scarf, and a wool hat, the laptop is on my lap, and I’m still freezing. It was NOT like this in Mass. Not inside anyway.

#3 Melizzard on 01.08.10 at 9:54 pm

“We are so used to avoiding heat that we aren’t sure where to find it when we actually need it.” – Perfect description of our crazy Florida winter panic!

#4 Mary@Everyday Baby Steps on 01.10.10 at 1:12 pm

Um, I feel bad for you. I think. I’d be buying me some sweaters though. Any excuse to shop, baby! Good luck staying warm with those pashminas. :)

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