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One Woman's Opinion

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Florida Update, part 2

by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— Upon visiting Florida, I enjoy a game I call “Expensive Goose Bumps.” The idea is to see how many goose bumps one can count whilst sunbathing at the pool, and figure how much each goose bump costs.

The colder it is, the more goose bumps. At home in Middlesex County, goose bumps are free, but in Naples goose bumps can cost big bucks.

Of course, one’s spouse may not especially appreciate the game. This could be directly related to the fact that he is paying the bill. I have learned in life that those who pick up the tab in society don’t always have the same sense of humor as the rest of us.

“Why, my dear, must you insist on going to the pool when the temperature outside is 42?” such a grumbler might ask. The thrust of his argument is that if one were sensible and stayed inside the condo wrapped in three sweaters instead of going to the pool, then one would not have to waste one’s time playing such foolish games.

“But I have to experience life!” I exclaim with sudden, great passion, as artistes do when confronted by sensible people. “I want to be close to nature!” I continue ardently, “to personally feel and see and hear all of her splendid bounty!”

Such declaration stops all further discussion and I flounce off to the pool for a quick dip. It will be very quick. The pool is supposed to be heated and the temperature kept at 90 degrees at all times, but the maid from Ohio cannot be fooled. She knows 90 degrees when she feels it and also when the water is icy cold.

After my dip, I spread what is left of me on a chaise lounge. I am, as usual, the only person at the pool so I have a complete choice as to where to sit. Indeed, it is a sad state of the world but the truth is rugged individualists spend a lot of their time alone. I choose the chaise lounge that is in full sun and as much in the lee as possible. The wind off the Gulf is the fiercest wind I have ever encountered with the possible exception of Lake Michigan as it slams into Chicago.

Soon, I have had enough. Even rugged individualists have their limits. One reminds oneself, even at 42 degrees, it is best not to get too much tropical sunshine as this can cause skin cancers. Within minutes, I am in the spa which is 105 degrees. Aaaaaah. That’s more like it, and I feel blissful watching the steam rise up into the frigid air.

Is pleasure ruined by the stark reality that suffering will soon follow? I contemplate such a thought as I estimate just how much suffering I will experience when I run wrapped in my towel back to my condo. I run quickly. It is amazing how fast a 68-year-old woman can run whilst contemplating the nature of suffering.

“Enjoy your closeness with nature?” he asks back at the condo from his thicket of sweaters.

It was Father that first introduced me to Florida. In 1924, Grandfather had first taken him and his brothers down the Intercostal to Florida on the good ship “Tobermory.” It was an adventure of a lifetime and Father never forgot how beautiful and virginal the East Coast was at that time.

On Christmas Eve however, Grandfather had received word that his factory back in Vermilion, Ohio, had burned to the ground. There were no insurance payoffs or government handouts in those days. He left immediately for home, leaving the boys to bring back the “Tobermory” on their own. Consequently, Father always thought Florida was the best destination of all.

My parents introduced me to the Sunshine State in the 40s and 50s as a child. The winters were so hard on Lake Erie (this was before global warming, mind you) that we were happy to escape some of the wicked weather every winter. In those years we vacationed on the East Coast, Singer Island, Delray Beach and Boca Raton. That area is now so built up that I prefer the West Coast.

If you plan a trip to Florida in January take exactly what you would take if you planned a trip to Alaska. January is a fluky month and if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes because she’s bound to change.

Florida is just like a woman; either too hot or too cold and she changes on a dime. Fickle, sassy, impossible to predict. When you take this gal out for a spin, expect anything. Perhaps that’s why I love her so much.  ©2010

posted 02.10.2010

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