Monday, February 1, 2010

Living in Paradise

While the rest of the nation hunkers down for more blizzards and freezing rain, those of us in Florida are content with a few extra blankets on the bed or a warmer jacket when we go outside. Fifty degree weather feels pretty cold to those of us who live here year round. Try enduring the 95+ heat in summer with 80%+ humidity, and you'll know what I mean.

This is the time of year when the cyprus trees turn brown and shed their feathery green leaves. And except for the golf courses and watered lawns, the grass turns into dry stubble and the fire danger rises. By mid March the smell of smoke and the blinding haze on the highway makes us wish for those muggy days of summer when the rain blesses us with a daily drenching.

My first year here, I was amazed to see the live oak trees shed their leaves and be replaced with bright green foliage within a matter of days. There are no Fall leaves to speak of, no diamond studded hoarfrost to adorn the trees or dust the ground. And snowmen? "Forget about it;" except for the blow-up kind that smile like foreigners on decorated lawns at Christmas time.

But as with all good things -- there are trade-offs. My husband and I joke around and call Florida "paradise," and 9 months out of the year it is. But some of us are spoiled by the almost perfect temperatures and mild conditions. The three slightly imperfect months ruin it for some, and mar Florida's wonderful reputation for others. But hey, it's only a few months!
When three hurricanes ripped through Florida a few years ago and two of them doubled back on us, many people scrambled to northern points, never to return. We weathered the storms, glad to be alive when they were over. The extent of the damage was a few uprooted trees for us, for other people, roofs were blown off, houses were destroyed, and hope was lost when insurance companies played a game of semantics and refused to pay for water damage and the resultant mold.

My favorite squirrels that nested in our cabbage palm for three years in a row and produced nine babies in the process lost their home. Our faith in God was tested. Our love for each other was strengthened. Frankly, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else!