Thursday, February 23, 2012

Out of Touch With Reality

This winter I realized just how out of touch with reality I am, or rather the reality of the northern states. I experienced my first Chicago blizzard at the tender age of three in 1967, and I lived through the infamous Chicago Blizzard of 1979 and even had a t-shirt to prove it. Most years weren't quite that severe, but winters were a long haul of bitter cold temperatures and wet, sloppy snow.

Being sick of long winters that ran from November through February or March was one of my primary reasons for moving to Florida. Sure, the snow means fun in the form of cross country skiing or tobogganing, and there's nothing more beautiful than cantering along on horseback in a forest of sparkling, freshly powdered trees and white virgin trails. Unfortunately, that's outweighed by frozen cars that don't want to start, shoveling snow, scraping ice off windshields, bundling in a coat so heavy that you resemble Randy in "A Christmas Story," and feeling your lungs burn with every breath as they struggled to take in the icy air.

In Florida, we get a few freeze warnings every winter, but ice and snow are a thing of the past. It's gotten to the point where I've forgotten that things are different in other parts of the country. In January, I watch commercials with people making snowmen and shoveling their walkways, and I chalk the snow up to mythical status, along with unicorns and Yetis. Yes, I know people who claim to have seen it. At one point in my life, I thought I saw it myself, but now I know it's just a faulty memory. To reassure myself, I glance out the window and admire the green grass and swaying palm trees.

Sometimes I stumble on the Weather Channel while flicking through cable's overwhelming offerings. I hear about winter storm warnings and see scenes of icy roads and big, wet snowflakes falling against the backdrop of the Chicago skyline. Something stirs in my memory, but there's no sense of loss or homesickness, just a sign of relief.

Once upon a time I was an old hand at driving in snow and ice. My attitude, like that of my fellow Chicago residents, was, "There's a blizzard outside? So what? I need to get to da Jewels!" I'd chip my vehicle out of its snow mound, hop behind the wheel, and fishtail my way off to the grocery store or to work or wherever.

Now, although I'd like to think I haven't lost my winter driving skills, I suspect I'd be clueless if I were suddenly dropped on a road in the midst of a Midwest snowstorm. Still, even if I've lost that knack, I've gained the ability to drive in an almost solid sheet of water. With Florida's sudden, vicious thunderstorms that happens pretty much every afternoon. After the initial panic, you learn how to drive through the waterfall on faith, with no idea whether there's open road or a truck full of explosive fuel in front of you.

In Florida, you lose your sense of the time of year. Sure, I know intellectually that it's December, January, and February, but those month names mean nothing special to me. In Chicago, they signified a bleak, gray, seemingly endless parade of cold. In Florida, they're just three out of the 12 months, chillier and drier than the summer, but not extreme enough to make that much of a difference. Sometimes I totally forget that it's winter until I see a weather report from another part of the country and it clicks in my mind, "Yes, it's actually snowing elsewhere."

If I were still in Chicago, I wouldn't be thinking about flowers until late May. In Celebration, I'm already planning the next round of flowers for my garden. The previous round, planted in December, would still be going strong if the local deer hadn't decided that they make a good buffet.

I've gotten spoiled by my new reality. Hopefully for the rest of my life I'll put on my heavy coat when the temperature dips below 70, tend my flowers all year 'round, and forget that winter ever meant anything more than a mild chill.

If you'd like to read the early years of my blog as an ebook on Kindle or Nook. My other books include:
  • Complete eBook Guide to Legoland Florida on Kindle and Nook
  • Complete eBook Guide to SeaWorld Orlando: Kindle or Nook
  • Legoland for Adults: 12 Tips to Enjoy Your Trip: Kindle or Nook.
  • 15 Tips for Saving Money on Disney Cruise Line: Kindle or Nook
  • 25 Tips for Visiting Disney World With Babies, Toddlers & Young Kids: Kindle or Nook
  • 5 Steps to Your Own Internet Travel Agency: Kindle


Melissa said...

I have been reading your blog lately and living vicariously through your posts. I am from Michigan and with this "Winter Storm Warning" that has made news all day, I would love to be looking at your view instead of mine. I hope to begin looking for a house in Celebration in four years. Celebration is me n hubby's retirement destination :)

CoxPilot said...

Dear Barb:

I've had my eye on a condo just like yours, and I wondered if you had any problems with noise from your connecting neighbors. Are the walls sound resistant? Otherwise; We love the floor plan and location.

Barb said...

We do hear some sound, but not enough to be a problem. We're the end unit, so we only share one wall. Our neighbor has three kids and a dog. We hear music or some thumping/bumping but that's about it. It's no more than you'd hear through your windows. I'm actually very impressed with just how little we hear.