Monday, December 20, 2010
Only fellow Floridians understand complaints about 'cold' weather
(First appeared in Orlando Sentinel December 19, 2010)
The heat is on, but as I write this, I'm sitting in my house wearing several layers of clothing and fur-lined boots. I'm typing in the living room instead of my office because my office is far too frigid.
A large, single-pane picture window covers an entire wall in my usual writing space. Normally, I love that window because it provides great views of the garden and hillside, but when the temperature dives, so does its charm. Cold air seeps through the glass like water through a burst pipe.
Speaking of burst pipes, did you remember to leave your faucet running during the recent freeze? We Floridians become so accustomed to year-round warm weather that we forget to take basic preventive measures such as protecting water pipes from freezes.
We abandon many wintertime procedures when we settle in the Sunshine State, and we do so gladly. Who wants to wear layers of clothes, worry that the cold will kill our plants or create geysers out of barely buried water pipes? We didn't move south to sit by leaky windows or to cover our feet in anything except flip-flops.
But cold weather occasionally comes, and Floridians adapt. We also complain.
I'm telling you this because I know you'll understand. You live in Florida, too, and even though the weather probably will have warmed considerably between the time I'm writing this and the time you're reading it, most of you share my desire to live in a freeze-free zone.
That commonality enables us to commiserate with one another. We can start conversations with, "My gosh, it's cold," knowing that the people we're talking to will nod their heads and offer up a sympathetic reply.
That's not the case if the person we complain to lives out of state in, say, Rochester, N.Y. I made that mistake the other day. Ralph and I spent the night at La Veranda Bed and Breakfast in St. Petersburg. Before breakfast, we began loading up the car with our suitcase and gear. The car was a short distance away, so in typical Florida fashion, I didn't bother to bundle up before heading out. By the time I came inside to sit down at the table, I was chilled.
"Brrr," I said to the other guest who entered the dining room just after I came in. "It's cold out there!"
The man stared at me as if I was talking gobbledygook.
"I just came in from outside," I explained, thinking that would help.
"How cold is it?" he asked.
"Maybe in the low 30s," I said. "It's really cold."
He continued to stare.
A spark of awareness lit in my cold-dulled brain. "Where are you from?" I asked.
"Rochester, New York," he replied.
"Ah," I said. "Well, that explains your expression. Forgive my complaint, but to me it's cold. Not to you, no doubt, but we Floridians aren't used to such chilly weather."
The rest of our breakfast conversation was pleasant enough. We managed to avoid any weather-related topics and said our goodbyes with mutual respect.
The encounter reinforced a maxim I learned shortly after moving to the Sunshine State: If you want to complain about the weather in Florida, make sure the person you are complaining to lives in Florida, too. You'll get no sympathy from Northerners. They simply don't understand.