The other day Key West set a record temperature for November at 81°. For those of you who live any where north of the 25th parallel, you probably think it’s pretty warm for this time of the year. And you would be correct. However, there is one minor detail…the record was the low temperature for the day, not the highest. In fact, it has been in the mid 80’s over the last week or two every day with no end in sight. The island has been the warmest spot in the continental US for the past few weeks. Which is fine by me because I despise cold weather.
I grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania where 80 degree temperatures happened once or twice a year. It seemed to be cold all the time including summer. Winters were, and still are as far as I know, long drawn out affairs where one can go weeks on end without seeing sunshine or blue skies. By March depression begins to set in and just when you think it’s over and spring has arrived, another freeze comes in. Up there you needed four complete sets of clothing for each season. Jackets, gloves, long pants, heavy socks, boots, flannel, thermal underwear, and insulated shirts were all necessary. To just go outside to do something meant taking half an hour just to get dressed properly.
I have a very low tolerance for cold weather. Even more so since I’ve lived in Florida for nearly 38 years. When I did live up north I dreaded winter. No matter how much I bundled up, no matter what I tried, I would freeze. Later in life when I began working I had some jobs where I had to work outside in the cold. It was some of the most miserable times of my life. Nothing I tried would keep me warm. I vowed to move to someplace warm where winter didn’t exist.
Now? I can go almost all year round and not wear anything but a pair of fishing shorts and a light fishing shirt. I keep some socks handy as I do a lot of walking now and wear some good hiking shoes but mostly I’m either barefoot or wearing boat shoes. Every once in a while when the cold fronts make it this far down I will throw on an extra shirt or break down and pick up a pair of jeans, but it’s rare I need to do so. And when the fronts do come through, the cold rarely lasts more than a day or two. And it’s nothing like what I used to put up with.
Florida does have some pretty nasty cold weather in the upper areas of the state. Freezes were common when I lived in Central Florida but no snow. In fact, for those of you looking for the warmer parts of the state, the freeze line, the approximate area where freezing temperatures cease to be or become almost non existent, runs somewhat along a line just south of the Melbourne area. Anywhere south of there and you get into the more tropical climate. Even so, with the weird climate changes going these days, the occasional polar arctic vortex express does manage to make it’s way down into the lower parts of the state. But as I said, the cold rarely lasts very long.
Living in a virtual eternal summer does not suit everyone. I always hear a lot of people say they love or miss the change of seasons. Fine. Flights and buses leave daily for the great white north. Have at it. To come down here and then complain about the heat is absurd. You are near the tropics. It’s warm, hot, humid, and rainy. Almost all year around. The leaves don’t change color in the fall, the snows don’t fall in the winter, and there is little difference between spring and summer. If you don’t like the heat, don’t come to the islands, or at least don’t come and complain.
People like me live for this sort of weather. To be able to plan things, go outside and do stuff, and not have to pack on 20 pounds of clothing is perfect to me. All I need to know is if it will rain or not, otherwise, I throw on my usual stuff and head out into the bright and shiny day. No worries about frost bite, icy roads, nor snow drifts. We have open air bars and restaurants where big fans spin overhead, just like in the movies. The fresh ocean breezes waft in and you don’t feel like you are trapped in some hermetically sealed container. A little shade goes a long way in making things more comfortable.
It’s not completely perfect though. Air conditioning has made a difference in life down here and some take it to extremes. Many of the stores and bars run the ac down as far as they can, sometimes into the 60’s and when one goes from the outside where it’s in the 80’s, it’s like walking into a freezer. What makes it doubly bad is if you have been outside doing anything physical like walking or breathing, chances are you have worked up a good sweat. So when you go into an air conditioned place, you get chilled very quickly. This happens to me a lot and as a result, I have been suffering from the cold from hell for the last 3 weeks now. Coughing, sneezing, hacking, and sniffling everyday. Then it settles down and I think I’m over it, only to have a relapse after a trip to the store. But it will pass soon enough and I can get back to feeling normal again.
Nope, the heat is something I can deal with. It’s why I came to Florida in the first place and why I will never live any place where the cold is common. I love summer and can deal with it all the time. As the seasons come and go up north, it remains the same here. No preparing for long winters, no changing out tires on vehicles for snow treads, no putting up storm windows on the house, and no going out in the cold when one does not want too. I’ve had more than enough of cold and winter and I never want to experience it again.