It’s December in Florida, and I’ve been thinking about the weather more than usual. I’m from Michigan, and I’ve been watching the weather back home. The tv station up there has live, streaming weather cameras in a half-dozen towns, and they’ve been making me realize I miss home more than I thought I did.
Winter in Michigan is brutal. It is, there’s no arguing otherwise. I never thought so, because I grew up there, and it was just normal for it to be below freezing from November through March, with snow up to my waist and blizzards that cut visibility to about three feet.
I don’t miss the individual pieces of the winters back home. I don’t miss the cold that seeps through my gloves and makes my fingers hurt. I don’t miss the brown slop that snow turns into after the road is salted. I don’t miss scraping ice off the car every single morning. I don’t miss being cooped up in a drafty house, smelling each other’s feet and dinner dishes for months.
Yet somehow, I miss the total…feeling of winter up north. Getting out of the car at work after an icy commute, I had a feeling that I’d somehow beaten nature, and I felt, well, manly. I have a vision in my mind of winter that sounds lame, but makes me feel warm and fuzzy – the vision is of driving through one of the little towns in northern Michigan, on roads that are dry but crusted white with road salt. The buildings are brown, with salty-white stains up from the sidewalks to about knee-high. It’s twenty degrees outside, and the car’s blowing toasty heat on my hands and feet. It’s not even sunny out, it’s a high, bright overcast. Don’t know why, but that vision makes me nostalgic for winter.
In any case, after surviving a frigid, nasty, grey, sloppy, brutal winter…it made the spring better. When the skies got sunny, and the flowers started to bud, and we could throw open the windows for a blast of fresh air, we could appreciate it more. We’d earned it.
Now, my wife’s hung up on what the weather should be. It should be thirty-two degrees and snowy in December. It should be sunny and 82 in July. Fall should have fall colors and pumpkins. Spring should have flowers and new greenery. Unfortunately, Florida isn’t like that. Florida has two seasons: Hot and Pleasant.
Maybe that’s not quite right. I think Florida weather isn’t so much about the temperature, as much as being about pleasant vs. unpleasant. Summer is unpleasant – no, summer in Florida is brutal. Just as Michigan winters are brutal, so are Florida summers. Hot, humid, nasty from late May until late September.
I don’t like the hot commutes home, with the car AC struggling to fight off the sun beating in the windows. I don’t like being cooped up in a hot house, with the AC there struggling to fend off the sun beating in through the windows. I don’t like working up a sweat just standing still. I don’t like ruining a shirt when I mow the lawn, or go for a walk, or talk to a neighbor.
But I’m not going to say I don’t like the pleasant weather in the winter. I do. I may have grown up where it’s cold in the winter and warm in the summer, but now I appreciate the pleasant weather in the winter. I appreciate walking the dog in shorts and sandals after Thanksgiving. I appreciate driving the car with the sunroof open from October though April. After suffering through the nasty, sweaty, boiling, god-awful summer, the pleasant winter weather here is somehow better. We’ve earned it.