Thursday, September 06, 2007

Endless Summer Redux

A couple of years back, in a blog entry titled "Endless Summer," I lauded Florida as the land of eternal warmth and sunshine. Of course, warmth is a relative term, as what's warm to northeners can be downright arctic to natives. This topic came back to me as I hiked the boardwalk to downtown, my hair soaked with sweat, and the humidity of the day only partially relinquishing its hold as dusk dropped its curtain.

Could Labor Day really be past? In Chicago, that three-day September weekend was always a harbinger of cold days ahead. My husband and I had a tradition of going to Wisconsin Dells (a mega-tourist area known for its water parks) every Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend. Memorial Day was a cheerful time, as we were officially ushering in summer (even though the true start date of the season was over a month away), and we could bask in three months of sunshine, swimming pools, horseback riding, biking, and all the other outdoor activities we had sorely missed in the long, gray winter.

We always visited Noah's Ark Water Park and Riverview/Waterworld in the Dells. Most years Mother Nature smiled on us and allowed enough warmth for swimming. Of course, after a bitter Chicago winter, anything above 70 felt suitable for jumping in a pool. Everyone at the water parks was in good spirits, kicking off a season of fun.

In contrast, our Labor Day visit always felt melancholy. We knew that it was our last hurrah before fall hurtled at us and passed much too quickly, leaving us to face another cycle of snow, ice, and below freezing temperatures. We had fun, of course, but there was always a sense of finality tinging the enjoyment. As we'd float in the lazy river, we could see the lifeguards taking out the extra tubes and hauling them away for off-season storage. They'd stack and haul away the lounge chairs even while guests were still in the park, getting a head start on their end-of-season tasks, and their cleaning duties were much more thorough than on a typical day because they were battening down the hatches for the season.

Often, the week after Labor Day felt like Mother Nature had thrown a switch. Suddenly the temperature would drop a good 10 degrees, and people will pools in their backyards knew that drain-time was at hand bcause swimming weather was over for another year.

Here in Florida, Labor Day is just another holiday. Its significance lies more in signaling the start of the brief slow period at Disney World than it does in a weather change. Granted, things will cool down here too, but by "cool down" I mean drop from the 90s into the 80s and 70s. Instead of getting time off, my horse Figment's workload will increase. Instead of curtailing our activities, we'll be going to the theme parks more and will hit the water parks until my thin Floridian blood can't take it anymore. My husband still has some Northern heartiness, but I've already lost most of mine. Oh well, that's what our hot tub is for.

Instead of Wisconsin Dells, hubby celebrated the new season by running over to Epcot tonight. I had to work and then went to the contemporary church service, so I missed out on all of the fun. Imagine my insane jealousy when he told me the line for Soarin' was only 20 minutes! It was 90 to 120 minutes just a few weeks ago; once school starts, it's like a switch has been flipped slowing the stream of tourists to a trickle, although it will steadly rise again as October gets closer.

Even though I missed a marathon on my favorite Epcot ride, he brought me home a cool Soarin' t-shirt. It has a representation of literally every scene from the ride, from the hang gliders, aircraft carrier, and golf ball to the skiers, rafters, and horseback riders. Of course, the Disneyland fireworks are there, too.

Ah, how I love the endless summer! That's the name of a Beach Boys album, which brings to mind one of my favorite BB songs: "Wouldn't It Be Nice." The first verse, interpreted loosely, sums up our transition to Florida and Celebration:

Wouldn't it be nice if we were older
Then we wouldn't have to wait so long
And wouldn't it be nice to live together
In the kind of world where we belong

Since our initial plan was to move to Florida, somewhere near Disney World, in ten years, so of course we would have been older then...and it did, indeed, feel like a long time. We always knew that the Disney area was the world where we belonged.

The song says:

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true
Baby then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do

Our wishes, hopes, and prayers did come true more quickly than we had expected. Now, we can do all the experiences that we loved but that had to be relegated to precious vacation time, like hubby's impromptu visit to Epcot. And we don't have the prospect of blizzards and wind chills dancing in the near future; our endless summer will go on all year.

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