Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Florida is supposed to be warm! So why the heck are the temperatures plummeting into the 40s at night?

Actually, I shouldn't complain because the daytime weather has been beautiful. It's a little on the nippy side, but it reminds me of those precious few days that Chicagoans call "spring" and "fall," right before they are assaulted by oppressive heat or bone-chilling cold. For that brief span of time, the weather is perfect...warm but brisk, sunny but breezy, in a perfect yin/yang balance of heat and cool.

In the daytime, we're been hovering in the 70s, and I've been in heaven. At night, the mercury dips just a bit too low. Last night, we were only one degree away from record-breaking cold, making it all the way down to 49 degrees. My husband and I took a dip in the hot tub, diving into the 99 degree water and watching the steam rise into the cold night air like a lobster pot. It took us quite a while to steel ourselves for the shivery, towel-wrapped run to the back door when we were done.

Even though the exit is rough, there is one good thing about winter dips: no bugs. I am the sort of person that a mosquito can smell a mile off, and my blood must taste like the nectar of the gods. Unless I turn on the misters (picture the cool-off stations at Disney World), the entire upper part of my body will morph into a swollen, itchy mass as every mosquito in Celebration rushes to the buffet.

The chilly nights make me glad that we opted for a hot tub. For a while, I considered a "spool" (an in-ground spa/pool combination), but an above-ground spa seemed much easier to install. Now, I realize that it's also easier (and cheaper) to heat, so we'll be able to enjoy it all year 'round. If we want to actually swim on chilly days, we can always head downtown to Lakeside Park. The lap pool there is heated, so it's a popular winter spot while the other Celebration pools are virtually deserted until June.

Back in Chicago, it's only 10 degrees cooler. However, there is one big difference: here in Central Florida, it won't get much cooler as the winter months take hold. In the Midwest, the temperature will steadily drop until it's in single digits, and then into the negative realm. We may get some rain in the Sunshine State, but up north they'll be under a blanket of ice and snow.

Supposedly, Hurricane Wilma brought in the early cold snap. By mid-week, we should be back up into the 80s before we experience our official winter chill. I'm looking forward to it because once the oppressive humidity is gone, I have no excuse to avoid walking and biking. In the summer, when the mercury is hovering in the upper 90s and you can squeeze the air like a sponge, it's too darned tempting to hole up in air conditioned comfort. My outdoor physical activity in July and August is pretty much limited to watering the garden.

Now, the gorgeous weather draws me out. This is the time of year that front porch swings and bicycle paths were made for. Stitch, my hunter kitty, likes it too. We don't allow him to roam outside alone, but in the summer I can only stand a brief period of "cat walking." As much as he loves the outdoors, even Stitch himself has a rough time in the relentless heat. He's mostly black, so his fur coat absorbs the sun's rays like a roll of Bounty towels on a cup of spilled coffee. Rather than chasing lizards, he's forced to retreat under the shady bushes in my flower bed, where it's just a bit cooler.

On gorgeous fall days, both he and I could stay outside forever. He prowls through the yard and weaves his way through the neighbors' bushes in stealth mode, hoping to sneak up on poor, unsuspecting reptiles. He rolls on the sidewalk and in the street, making sure to get as messy as possible so he can transfer the most dirt possible into the house. He lurks in the "croquet field" and leaps like an acrobat at unseen insects. He meows in crabby protest when I finally scoop him up and return him to house arrest.

I suspect we're going to have one more heat wave before the fall/winter weather settles in. I don't mind, since I'd like one last hurrah at a Disney water park before we give in and stick to the hot tub. But it's been a long, hot, sticky summer, and I'm ready for some relief. Bring on the "brrrr!"

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