Like a rusting bicycle chain or a damp dollar bill, the Florida weather has begun to alter parts of me that I thought were well fixed. We made it through Hurricane Elsa, which downgraded to a tropical storm for our area. Seeing that through made us feel like actual Floridians who know what to do with weather forecasts—wait and see.
And now that we’ve been here a month, and we are wearing suntanned skin and a permanent glisten from sweat, I’ve noticed that my previously Colorado-winterized body (and mindset) has totally adapted to tropical heat.
First of all, coffee. I like strong, hot coffee with milk. I’ve been drinking coffee that way every morning since I was in college. So, the fact that I am now drinking iced coffee with both milk and sugar is a testament to the radical, albeit subtle shift, Florida has made on my constitution.
I no longer have any fear that I will ever be cold under any circumstance any day or night. It takes exactly 30 seconds of being outdoors before I begin to seep. Socks and shoes seem as torturous as church clothes for Huck Finn, and have become obsolete, at least for me. I can’t even recall the concept of pants. Even shorts made of heavier material than linen or cotton are questionable. Most often I slip on a loose, sleeveless dress, a broad-brimmed sun hat, and hope for shade, water, and breezes.
Yesterday, we went for a 15-mile bike ride north to a place called Casey Key. We had hats for shade, and a fairly consistent cool sea wind left over from the storm. We stopped for lunch on the water of Little Sarasota Bay. I ordered iced tea—another beverage I seldom drink. I sucked the first one down like a Bedouin at a desert oasis, but let the second glass sit too long as I ate and by the time I went for a second sip all the ice had melted. Timing was important, as the little plastic cups the restaurant had were not insulators. Around the house we’ve discovered the wonders and obvious necessity of double-walled plastic tumblers that keep our iced drinks cold for hours. Drinks contained in anything else are soon tepid and a drippy mess of condensation. And I own none of these miraculous containers in Colorado.
When we got back from our long ride, I took a nice cool shower. Who is this creature I’ve become? Normally, I take hot showers—scalding if I can get them. Living here now, I have never even bothered to figure out how to make the water hot.
Refreshed and relaxed then I filled a blender with ice and made a frozen concoction that helped me hang on. We are literally living out a Jimmy Buffet lyric. I braved a brain freeze and reveled in amazement at air conditioning and fans. We have never even had air conditioning in our current house in Colorado. There are a few days in late July and August where we regret that. But for the most part the cool nights, open windows, and attic and swamp fans keep us from sweating through our clothes. Here we expect to sweat through our clothes regularly, if we venture outside, which we must. We want to take note of everything here that we don’t have in Colorado: anoles skittering along the bike path, sea birds, jacaranda trees, and the ever-elusive alligator. Still hunting for that.