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FLORIDA IN WINTER TIME

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 2, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

I remember when I was moving to Florida years ago, my in-laws in Ohio warned me, “You’re going to miss the change of seasons.” It’s been 27 years since then and, so far, so good. No, I do not miss the change of seasons and frankly, the mere thought of going back into the snow belt gives me the shivers. Keep in mind, I lived in the north most of my life and survived the great snow of 1967 in Chicago, but enough is enough. Also, this is not about boasting how the Sunshine State has a better climate than the northern states. I learned a long time ago that Florida is not for everyone and, as such, you must be mentally prepared to move down here. Life is certainly different.

While northerners are shoveling snow, we’re still mowing our lawns in Florida. True, the grass slows down a bit in terms of growth, but it still needs to be manicured. My northern friends tell me they relish the time off from yard work. While they’re hibernating indoors, I prefer to be outdoors. Floridians tend to become claustrophobic if they cannot go outside. Some go to the beaches and parks, but mostly we leave that to the tourists who invade our state during the winter months. If you’ve got a boat though, you are probably out in it on the weekends enjoying the sunshine and some fishing. Golf, tennis, softball, and trapshooting are favorite pastimes as well this time of year.

During the winter, our temperature usually hovers in the 70’s during the day which is quite comfortable. The 60’s are considered “cool,” 50’s are “cold,” and anything else is freezing. Now and then, a blast of Arctic air pushes down from Canada thereby driving temperatures below freezing. This is obviously dangerous to our crops and other plant life. To protect the plants, it is common to cover them with old bed sheets and blankets which looks rather comical if you’re not from Florida. Plant life on lawns are dutifully “bedded” down for the night with an assortment of coverings which seem to be better suited for Christmas than anything else. If you do not cover your plants, you will undoubtedly lose them and be forced to replant new ones in the Spring, at a substantial cost I might add. It may look silly but it is worth it.

When you move to Florida, your blood begins to thin out thereby making it easier for you to withstand the summer heat. However, as a byproduct, you become less tolerant of the cold. To illustrate, when I first moved to Florida I built a house with a pool. As the project was coming to its conclusion in April, I remember talking to my contractor as we watched my pool filling up with water. I mentioned I was delighted to see the pool completed and looked forward to jumping in it as soon as it was filled. He looked at me incredulously and warned me the temperature of the water would only be in the 70’s. I replied that Yes, I was aware of the temperature and said, “Won’t that be perfect?” He just laughed and walked away shaking his head in disbelief. After I acclimated to the Florida temperatures I began to understand why he shook his head. Today, I won’t go into the water unless it is, at the very least, in the 80’s; the 90’s would be even better. Such is what happens to your system when you move to Florida.

The most noticeable change to natives here is the substantial increase of motorists on the roadways. November marks the beginning of the snowbird migration. This is where northerners, predominantly retirees, begin to make their annual trek down here to Florida. Sure, their money is nice for our economy but we have to contend with some God-awful drivers. There are New Yorkers in SUV’s who think they own the road, people from Ontario who believe they are always driving in a school zone, and others from the Midwest who are just plain lost. This disparity in driving styles results in a lot of stop-and-go traffic where drivers are forced to constantly switch between the peddle and brake. It sure would be nice if we had a national driving standard instead. Following the Spring baseball season and college breaks in March, the snowbirds pack up their gear and begin their migration back to the north. I-75, the main artery through western Florida is clogged beyond belief. Floridians know to avoid it like the plague.

Then there is the problem of the many dialects we hear during the winter months from the snowbirds. In addition to British and German accents, there is of course the Canadian, “Eh?”; the Minnesota “Don-cha-know?” and “Yah!”; and of course the New York “How ya doin?” By the time the tourists finally leave, Floridian speech patterns have been disrupted beyond comprehension. Thank God, we don’t get too many Russians down here, otherwise we would all be saying “Nyet!”

With the onslaught of snowbirds, restaurants become clogged, particularly at 4:30pm when “early bird” specials begin. If you are a Floridian, you learn to eat later during this time of the year. You also learn to avoid “all-you-can-eat” specials as the Canadians swoop in like vultures and God help anyone who gets in their way.

Contrary to what my in-laws warned me, we do have a change of seasons down here in Florida. It is quite subtle but you do indeed notice it. The Spring is marked by the smell of orange blossoms. Summer is, of course, hot but it is something Floridians are accustomed to. Just about any true Floridian would rather take the sweat of summer heat over the bone chilling winter cold as experienced up north. Summer also marks the start of hurricane season which is something we’re mindful of and prepare ourselves accordingly. October normally denotes the beginning of Autumn down here and my favorite time of the year as the weather is simply perfect.

Yes, we do indeed notice the change of seasons in Florida. We just don’t have that God-awful weather up north. Although we may grouse about the snowbirds invading our territory, we are mindful they play an important role in our economy and, as such, try to make them feel at home. However, when April comes we cannot wait to wish them “Bon Voyage” and reclaim what is rightfully ours. There’s only one problem, year after year, more and more snowbirds refuse to go home and elect to stay behind. Maybe it’s time for a little prodding.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to “FLORIDA IN WINTER TIME”

  1. I agree with you whole heartedly! I dont not miss the change of seasons one bit! I want to be warm all year long!

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    An M.R. of Michigan wrote…

    “I love Florida myself. Would love to move there too. Good story.”

    A J.D. of Columbus, Ohio wrote…

    “Born in Michigan, I lived there til I was six. Then we moved to Florida. Since most of my memories are from about four on, I claim that I grew up in Florida. We lived right on the Gulf of Mexico about 40 minutes north of Clearwater. I loved living on the water. When I first moved down the change of seasons wasn’t that noticeable to me. I distinctly remember the ‘Everything is green 3/4 of the time and brown through the winter.’ We swam almost every day from late February or March to late October. We boated out on the Gulf year round in our house boat. I didn’t pay much attention to the snow bird phenomenon until I hit my teens and started to really think about driving. When I finally got my license, boy that drove me nuts. By then I was used to the subtle changes in climate, etc. I had come north to visit family in Michigan a couple of times throughout the year. I realized I missed ‘true seasons’. I love snow and yes the colder weather. I love the colors changing in autumn and the beautiful colors that come out in the spring. Summers aren’t as hot (the one thing I hated about Florida were those God-awful hot summers) and I enjoyed summers back north more than I did in Florida. I decided to move back north, for awhile, to go to College. I landed in Ohio. I meant to go back after 4 or 5 years. I never did. I don’t regret it. Florida is perfect for visiting. I’ll admit I miss living on the Gulf and being able to see the water everyday but I don’t think I’d ever move back. I think I knew that, deep down, when I moved to Ohio. Great post, Tim!”

    An A.B. of Arizona wrote…

    “A M E N . . .

    I was born in Colorado Springs, CO, I moved to Europe, I moved to WY talk to me all about . . . S N O W . . . Oh hello, I don’t miss shoveling 5 feet of snow, I don’t miss the frigid temperatures and I certainly do not miss the hospital visits . . . THANK-YOU!

    I am a die hard SUN worshipper, I now live in Arizona and I couldn’t be happier, it’s for SUN worshipers exclusively; Warm summers, your bones don’t ache, you don’t have massive hospital visits, from colds, from flu, I’m always SICK when I live in COLD COLD CLIMATES it’s just not for me. Yes I love to ski, once a year, but NO THANKS to making that a 24/7/365 environment. SORRY! I love this article, excellent job!”

    A J.D. of Tampa, Florida wrote…

    “Love it Tim! I think people ‘think’ they would miss the seasons simply because it’s so in-your-face up north. I found Winter in NY/NE to be very dead. Snow is indeed beautiful when it falls and accumulates. The pictures prove it, but after that, it’s hell. Shoveling, plowing (and more shoveling), slippery roads, slow commutes, painful cold with biting breezes. Salt and dirt spreaders cause ugly blight on the roads which winds up on your car. Sorry, after childhood, the cons outweigh the pros. In fact, as we get to play basebal all year down here, I wish I’d grown up in FL. Throwing a baseball > throwing a snowball.”

    An S.N. of Daytona Beach, Florida wrote…

    “Moved to Florida last June, I am hoping I will not feel the summer heat as intensely as last year. I have enjoyed the subtle seasonal ‘change’ and have chuckled when walking the dog and seeing Christmas lights and smelling newly mown grass in December!”

    A T.C. of Colorado wrote…

    “I have lived in Colorado my whole life as school is closed today for 2-3 inches I hate winter more. Not just the weather but all the sissy people that have moved here and close school on days when I would have been walking to school as a kid.”

    A J.P. of Toronto, Ontario wrote…

    “For many years my parents had a home at Vero Beach, and went to Florida, when dad retired, from about late October until some time in early May. As a young adult I made a number of March breaks there, and once with our children over Christmas when they were old enough that the Santa Clause thing was understood to be symbolic of deeper, real values. Santa Clause never did seem to work well in Florida anyway. The whole sleigh, heavy clothing, reindeer and chimney thing seemed so out of place in the sub-tropics.”

    “All-you-can-eat,” eh?

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “When we’ve visited Florida in winter, we sit outdoors in shorts and T-shirts during the day. Our relatives think we’re crazy and are bundled up in sweaters. I love the four seasons in Michigan, but would love to be able to spend part of winter in Florida. I’m going to have to try to get to Florida in Spring some year to smell those orange blossoms. I love that fragrance.”

    An S.C. of Florida wrote…

    “I was born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. During those years Brooklyn was the best place to be, but no more. We moved to Florida over 20 years ago and would never move anyplace else. Florida has everything anyone can want to see or do. I love the weather and this article says it all. Great writing about my favorite place to live.”

    Like

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