To the Rest of the U.S. Today, November 23

Today, it is a gloriously beautiful day…68 degrees, no humidity, not a cloud in the sky.  Yes, I live in Florida.  No, you should not be jealous.

I know the rest of the country despises and hates on Florida starting right about now, all the way through spring.  I was one of those haters, for the 40 years that I lived in the Midwest and Great Lakes area — albeit in a minor way, because I never really paid attention to what was going on in Florida.  But all of you who don’t live in America’s hang-down really shouldn’t begrudge us our pleasant weather, just because we get it from November through April while you are shoveling driveways, and scraping cars, and wearing 20 lbs of clothing.

It’s not like we have it easy here, either.  Today, November 23, is the first truly pleasant day I’ve gotten here for almost seven months.  Starting anytime after mid-April, and lasting until mid-November this year, Florida’s summer heat and humidity are oppressive, malignant and all-encompassing.  I have been a virtual shut-in for this time, hustling from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned work.  It is a form of torture, breathing six months of recycled air and seeing the world through windows.

I maintain that the summer in Florida is beyond any American’s ability to comprehend unless they’ve lived it, breathing soup instead of air when they walk the dog at 9 pm.  Feeling the sweat roll down your back when you stand still in your garage.  Having your clothes and hair wilt within 10 minutes of leaving your house.  The heat is a terrible thing, and the humidity is horrible.

Yet, during the summer months, you don’t hear about it in the rest of the country.  Unless there’s a hurricane, Florida’s summer weather is a non-event, yet it is every bit as unpleasant and nigh-uninhabitable as Minnesota’s winter, just in the other half of the year.

So today, and for as long as this nice weather lasts, I am not going to be apologetic, nor quiet, nor tolerant of the rest of the country’s jealousy and sniping.  I’ve earned this nice weather.  I need this nice weather to help me reassemble my humanity and my sanity after the miserable summer’s cabin fever.  Never mind that it doesn’t come at the same time as everybody else’s — never mind when it should be nice outside.  It is nice outside, and that’s all that counts, because the myth of Florida being always beautiful and summery is just that, a myth.

Summer here is not like summer anywhere else in this country.  It is a blowtorch.  It is a steaming bathtub.  It is a boiling pot of soup.  It is not a fun, “let’s go have a picnic” time of gumdrops and volleyball.  Gumdrops in Florida in the summer have a half-life of three minutes before they become gum-puddles.

I don’t begrudge you your June ball-games, July beach-going and August barbecues — you can just zip your lip about my November bike rides, December gardening and January nature walks.

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