People tell me this, especially when a hurricane is coming. Folks north of us watch the weather and think we’re all nuts for living here. The Weather Channel has the entire state of Florida breaking off, floating out to sea and everyone dead by Monday.
You have to remember the weather people in Florida love hurricanes. They wake up excited because they actually have something to report besides, “Well, it’s another sunny day in Orlando. Highs will be in the 80’s and lows in the 60’s. Great day to go to the beach. Tomorrow too. And the day after that. And the one after that. And next month. And for the next year..” (Yawn).
Hurricanes need to be taken seriously of course. They’re dangerous, and Irma barreling down on us as I write this, is nothing to laugh at. But every place has something. Fires in the mid-west and northeast. Earthquakes and mudslides in California. Tornados in the plains. Blizzards up north. The planet seems bent on keeping us on our toes.
We grew up in upstate NY. The remnants of Hurricane Agnes came through in 1972 when I was 17 years old. Torrential rain fell for days and the Chemung River overflowed it’s banks. Half of my home town was destroyed in that flood. Proof you don’t need a tropical climate to be in danger.
Other than the four years we lived in Portland, Oregon, where it was gloomy and rainy, like a London fog, from fall till spring, we spent many years in New England. Mostly New Hampshire with a short stint in Maine. I loved New England. It’s a great place to raise a family, beautiful mountains, lush landscapes, quaint towns, awesome people and of course, Autumn, when the leaves put on their color show and apples are pulled right off the trees, juicy and sweet.
But then comes winter to ruin everything! I froze my tush off nine months out of twelve, shoveled snow and chopped ice until my back hurt and fingers were numb. Bought truckloads in rock salt and sand so I could walk outside without slipping on a patch of ice and cracking my head open, then spent the other half of the winter sweeping the same salt and sand out of my house and garage.
I’d go grocery shopping on a January day and get shopping cart wheels stuck in six inches of slush. And holding that icicle cold nozzle while pumping gas sent waves of pain all the way up my arm to my eyebrows. It’s like a brain freeze for your upper body. Some winter days I’d open the front door and a blast of demonic cold air sucked the breath right out of my lungs and pinched my nostrils together until they defrosted thirty minutes later.
Then there was the constant pile of snowy boots, mittens, coats, scarves and snowsuits dripping by the kitchen door. It smelled like a wet dog died in the house and someone forgot to bury him.
And don’t even mention the snow banks so high I could barely see my neighbor’s house across the street. Or, yeah, the ice storms, coating the world in a winter wonderland of treachery and taking the power down with it, so I wore three layers of clothes under six blankets and refused to get out of bed until someone turned the heat back on, days later.
Last year 450 car crashes happen because of ice and snow conditions just in Minnesota. Sixteen people died in a March, 2017 winter blast that extended from the northernmost midwest states to the northeast states. It was so cold in December 2013 and January 2014, 33 people died and it cost 5 billion dollars in damages.
Is there any perfect place to live? Maybe we’re all crazy to live anywhere!
Irma will be my sixth hurricane since moving to Florida, seventeen years ago, and I’ve been calling myself a Florida wimp for quit some time now. Hmmm….hurricanes, snakes, gators, creepy crawling critters, fire ants and humidity so high in the summer, it makes you sweat just looking outside from your air conditioned window? Maybe wimps don’t live down here. Maybe we’re a tougher bunch than we think. Maybe Florida ain’t for sissies after all.
What I do know is while my friends up north are shivering and shoveling, in a few months, I’ll be sitting on the pool deck having breakfast and picking fresh veggies out my garden.
Guess we all get to pick what we’ll put up with in this life. As for me, if it’s my time to exit, I’d rather blow away warm and shouting “Glory!” in a hurricane than freeze to death, shivering in a snow bank. If that makes me crazy, then I guess I am.
Gotta’ go toughen up some more, so I’ll talk to you all soon. On the other side of Irma.