Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Time of the Season

The other day, while tooling along to Publix in Canyonero, I heard a strange ad on the radio. Apparently it was advertising vacation property in Tennessee. Nothing strange about that; TN is a very lovely state, particularly the Smoky Mountains. My husband and I have spent some memorable vacations there, hiking, white water rafting, and horseback riding (and, of course, stopping off at Dollywood and the Dixie Stampede).

No, the strange thing was the tag line: "Come to a place where the seasons actually change." Perhaps that would be appealing to native Floridians, whose only knowledge of seasons is "Warm," "Hot," and "Hotter," but not to a Midwestern transplant like me. I've seen enough of the changing seasons to last me a lifetime. Since people who were born and bred in Florida are an endangered species, I can't imagine that commercial having a lot of broad appeal.

I guess that the changing seasons are nice in their own way. Problem is, the good seasons (i.e. spring and fall) are much too short. The bad season (winter) seems to last forever once its icy fingers take hold to choke the last bit of life out of the shedding trees and dying greenery and to paint the sunny skies a depressing shade of gray. Summer is short, too, but I've never been all that partial to it, other than enjoying the days when it's hot enough to swim. But there are enough indoor pools around the Chicago area to offset that appeal. I'd rather have a spring or fall day in the 70s than be sweating like a hog in 90 degree heat.

Okay, you might be thinking, if you don't like temperatures in the 90s, you must be miserable in Florida. Sure, we get our share of "rainforest weather" (blistering heat, humidity that you can cut with a knife, and regular afternoon monsoons). But we also have a fall that never turns into winter. It just drags itself out until it finally gets exhausted and turns the reins over to spring. Then, we get Mary Poppins weather (practically perfect in every way) for a couple of precious, heavenly months. When that's over, we're stuck with Hot Topic t-shirt weather until fall rolls around again.

In case you're not familiar with Hot Topic, it's a store that sells t-shirts with offbeat slogans. They have a shirt for every state, and Florida's says: "Like Hell...Only Hotter." Personally, I think they should have borrowed a line from Homer Simpson and made it "American's Wang," but a case can be made for the heat slogan, too.

We do have some trees that shed their leaves, and the nippy weather forces gardeners to switch over to mums and poinsettias. We might even have (gasp!) a frost or two or three. I don't need to travel all the way to Tennessee; that's plenty of season changes for me.

I must admit that I'm already missing springtime, as it is quickly segueing into a steaming summer. I was spoiled by the breezy, balmy days, basking in the sunshine as opposed to baking. Now, the temperature is working its way upward. I go walking early every morning, and I typically don shorts and a t-shirt. On some recent mornings, it used downright chilly; my blood is still thick enough to gut my way through it, but the friend who joins me would often be shivering in sweat pants and a jacket. But now, the mugginess hits me the moment I leave my air conditioned environment. Canyonero's digital display used to tell me that the temp was in the 60s or 70s (or sometimes even in the 50s), but now it's not unusual for the day to kick off as high as 81 and to flirt with 90 by the afternoon.

Today is one of those days. By the end of our walk, I was perspiring like a racehorse that had just run the Kentucky Derby. But the heat doesn't dissuade me; it just allows me to justify a stop at Barnie's for a decadent frozen coffee concoction.

Actually, this morning we hiked over to Water Tower Place to check out the new Goodings, which has been slated to open since April. Now it's May, and the site still definitely looks "under construction." But it's a lot closer to opening, as evidenced by the shelves and signage inside. Virtually everyone in Celebration is holding their collective breath to see if Goodings will be a real grocery store, geared to the needs of the locals, or a tourist trap like their location in the Crossroads by Disney World. Anyway, since we were at WTP, it was a good excuse to break with routine and have a smoothie instead of the usual White Chocolate Cherry Freezer.

Now, I'm holed up inside with the air conditioning on and the ceiling fans a-spinning. Florida is prime pnemonia country, as most businesses and many people keep their air conditioners set at "Meat Locker." Outside, eggs are frying on the sidewalks. Inside, you can see your breath, and Walt Disney's cryogenic cell is propped up against the wall.

To some extent, the "hot as hell" label is a myth, at least in the northern-most sections of the Sunshine State. I learned that firsthand when driving the Kitty Karavan in January. My husband and I were both niave enough to believe that once we passed through Tennessee, we wouldn't have to worry about snow. We didn't bother to watch the weather forecast; we figured were leaving winter behind, and good riddance. Little did we know that winter was nipping at our heels, ready to dump on us with a vengence. The infamous Atlanta Ice Storm of 2005 turned the roads into a skating rink and stretched our 18 hour drive into 24.

Once we got out of the city and neared the Georgia/Florida border, the ice gave way to snow and slush. I thought it would somehow magically disappear once we reached our new home state. But we were still many hours from Celebration, and the slush dogged us well over the border. I'm glad that we live in Central Florida, as the panhandle is still a bit too close to those "changing seasons" for my taste.

Tennessee can keep its changing seasons; I've seen enough of winter to last me a lifetime. Warm, hot, and hotter...those are the seasons for me.

Learn more about Celebration on my website:

No comments: