Why Not Winter in Florida?

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My Mom, facing another Bend, Oregon winter

Doesn’t the word “winter” conjure images of grey skies, wet sidewalks, snowy mountains and barren trees? You know, snow caves, The Shining, Wight Walkers, the Revenant- sort images?

Snow cave, the Shining, the Revenant and White Walkers

Winter Images

But if I were to say, Winter Garden, it may conjure a more appealing scene…. especially once you learn Winter Garden is a town in Florida. This is where we have hunkered in for the last FOUR YEARS. “winter in Florida“, I can tell you it’s nothing like that.

Nothing.

Don’t you love it?, STORM Tracker

But then again, Florida really isn’t like anything else either, is it? It’s my fourth round at winter in Florida, and it continues to amuse me. I have a few opinions about this Florida-thing, and thought I would share these musings. You just may want to consider these before making the journey to this sub-tropical, legendary, theme park destination:

  1. Driving in Florida is not like anywhere else. This is probably because drivers are from everywhere else. There is little commonality in drive philosophies. Combine this with other factors such as (a) being the state of speed, with the Daytona 500, and (b) the state where millions come to retire. Voilà, you have a recipe for fiasco flambé;
  2. Being a pedestrian is akin to being an out-of-space alien. I’m not sure why this is, you’d think with all this delightful weather people would be out walking all the time, but it seems to be an oddity around here. I’ve seen almost-accidents as drivers take a double take at – “wait, what??, is that a person?! WALKING?” (good thing I’m fast on my feet to hop back on the curb.);
  3. As I said, folks in Florida are from all over the place. It’s a melting pot of accents: Jur-zee, Bahhston, Southenahs, Noo Yawk, throw in the Latin and Caribbean accents, and you have a real goulash . . . They say things like “Y’all,” “Ya’ Mon” and “Youse guys.” I’ve been called “Darlin'”, “Hon”, “Sweetie”, and “Dear” – or, I should say, “Deahh”. In all honesty, I eat this stuff up. I’m sorry, but wanna call me “Suga'”?, or “Dahlin'”?… delivered with kindness, and endearment, I just can’t get enough, bring it on;
  4. The nature and wildlife are off the charts in Florida. Consider these: bears, bobcats, & alligators. And then, of course, there are the sharks, pythons, lightning, hurricanes, & floods. Oh, and sinkholes and Zika!…

    BobcatShark PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN BAILEY

    But, seriously, these are a bit of a stretch. I’ve only seen the lightning, and the alligators. Depending on your fear factor, these critters may cause some to reconsider. And, last;

  5. Florida Man. You heard me correctly, Florida Man. No, this isn’t like Bigfoot or Sasquatch. This is a bit different, see, there is no denying it. And, you’ve seen it. For example, you may remember, “A Florida Man Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn“?

    A mini helicopter or gyrocopter that landed on the US Capitol South Lawn area is viewed April 15, 2015, Photo credit PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

    Yeah, you got it. It invariably begins the same, A Florida Man, blah blah blah, and it always ends with you shaking your head in disbelief. Here are a couple to share to emphasize this point: Florida Man Arrested After Throwing Glass Eye at Doctor and Nurse, and how about, 82 Year-Old Florida Man Arrested for Slashing Tires in Bingo Dispute.

Even with these oddities, who would complain? I suppose winter doesn’t have to be cold, dark and gloomy; I expect I can enjoy another winter with azure skies, temps hovering around 80° and not a snow flake for hundreds of miles. Yeah, I can get used to it.

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