Saturday, March 01, 2008

Baby it's cold outside

Ok, it isn't. It's 72 degrees, pleasant by just about anybody's standards. But the other night we had a small cold snap. For the most part, that's winter in Florida. Temperatures in the 70's with the occassional front pushing it down to the 50's. Often we might go as low as the 30's once or twice. It's a given that winter is completely miserable elsewhere and so we locals don't really even use the word 'winter', usually just referring to this time of the year as 'the season', which is short for either 'tourist season' or 'the season we live for while we feel like we're being immolated the rest of the year'.

As someone who was born and raised on the shores of Lake Michigan, where you'd undoubtedly see people at the beach if it was 50 degrees in February, I'm always amused when it gets chilly here. Aside from hurricanes, it's the only time the tv news leads off with the weather forecast. And you see people walking around bundled up like they're going out to shoo caribou away from the Alaskan pipeline. I don't even know where people find that clothing around here. I don't think I even own a jacket that zips up.
But like I said, it does dip down into the 30's once in a while and I don't care where you live, when you're within 10 degrees of water turning solid, it is cold. I have friends who are native Floridians who have never been through a truly hellish (ie: standard) winter and think that when we get freeze warnings that they are walking a mile in the shoes of the poor, pasty northerners. Sometimes they'll say naively foolish things to me about how they feel like they're missing out on something and would like to experience it just once. It's for them that I present this very short list of things that make winter almost everywhere besides Florida so unredeemingly miserable:
  • Snow - If you've never seen snow, you're not missing much. Unless you ski, it's vastly overrated. Pretty while it falls and for the first day or so when it's on the ground, it quickly degenrates as it gets compacted and dirty and turns into slush, a sloppy, filthy, gray goop whose only purpose is to find it's way into your footwear and make you sad. If you want to simulate the snow experience for yourself, take off your shows, put on some wool socks and go into your bathroom with a 50 pound block of ice and a cheese grater. Rapidly rub the cheese grater over the ice so flurries of ice shavings fly all around you. Lovely, right? Now, once the ice is all gone, make your toilet overflow all over the bathroom floor and walk around in the resulting muck for six hours. That's snow.
  • Your car - You know how you hate getting up early? Imagine getting up at least a half hour earlier just so you can get dressed, go outside and start your car (that's if you're lucky and the battery isn't dead) and letting it run so it's not colder than a mausoleum in deep space and so your windshield wipers thaw enough to actually be almost 50% functional. They won't be so you might as well just scrape your windshield before going back inside and getting undressed so you can get ready for getting dressed again, this time for work. If it's an especially good day, your driveway will not have been plowed shut by the department of transportation clearing the roads the night before. Otherwise you have to shovel it clear yourself. Of course, you could just gun it and try to drive through the blockade if you're feeling adventurous. Or lazy. Then you're out on the streets with a bunch of assholes who've apparently never seen snow or ice before, in spite of living there their whole goddamned lives, and either drive too slow or too fast, placing your life in danger and making regularly irritating traffic completely insufferable. Yeah, you'd probably better get up a whole hour earlier than normal.
  • Power outages - When the power goes out for extended periods of time here you get hot and sticky, your food spoils and you can't watch tv. Up north, there's a very real possibility you could die to death. Even if you have a fireplace to keep you warm, you're still in considerable danger.

There's more of course, but honestly do you need to hear about it? No, no you don't. Trust me, you're really not missing anything.


Marissa said...

Ugh! Kankakee. We've seen more snow than in the past years. 1962, I believe, was the last time we've had this much snowfall. Winter isn't even over by a long shot. Send warmth. Better yet, send me a ticket and sunscreen. ha!

janey jay said...

This second-generation native Floridian appreciates the primer on What Winter's Really Like. Not having seen snow until I was in my mid-thirties (and that was at a ski resort in Park City) I honestly have no idea about that sort of thing.

I am, however, one of the few that doesn't don a Nanook of the North mukluk when the thermometer dips below 60 degrees. Not such a wimp after all.