This will be my eighth December in Florida, and I am finally getting the hang of what it means to “winter” here. Born and raised in the north and having worked most of my life in the western mountains, winter had always been an obvious season. But in Florida, it’s winter’s subtle changes that require a cultivated eye to notice.
Here’s my list of the not-so-obvious stuff that says winter:
- The snowbirds come back to roost and make merry in their golf carts.
- The meteorologistas—AKA weather reporters—retire their rain slickers and hurricane jargon until next summer.
- Storm Watches are substituted with Freeze Warnings.
- Lawn Service guys suddenly become Power Washers or Firewood Purveyors.
- The No-See-‘Ums make themselves scarce in Cedar Key. (We should really declare a holiday for this).
- Flocks of American White Pelicans return to the Gulf Coast and fill the skies with their majestic white-and-black wings.
- I get to wear some of my favorite sweaters and jackets from winters’ Past.
- Fresh oysters are on the grills again.
- Inflated snowmen flanked by scarf-clad penguins show up on front lawns, relaxing amongst the blooming azaleas, hibiscus, and lighted palm trees.
- Students swap out their flip-flops for UGG boots and scurry around in 70 degree temperatures.
- My second planting of tomatoes starts to ripen and the grapefruits and oranges are ready to pick.
- Binoculared Birders are out in force performing their annual bird counts.
- Words like Holidays, Seasons, Happy, and Greetings are always capitalized.
And so regardless of the weather, I’m wishing you and yours the warmest of wishes for a Happy Winter Season.