With the recent migration of thousands of people from “up North” to Florida, I’m reminded of the adjustments that you have to make when you decide to officially become a Floridian. Since I’ve lived here for more than 40 years, I almost qualify as a “native.” I can still remember the “warnings” that friends and relatives cited when I made my decision.
First and foremost, hurricanes. Yes, they can be devastating to life and property. But they are a fact of life in Florida, but it’s never a surprise like an earthquake or a tornado. During our hurricane season from June through November, you worry about it but it’s one of those things that always is in the back of your mind. You learn to accept that preparation is vital and taking the warnings seriously.
One memorable experience was when I was on a cruise in the Caribbean. For several days, we watched on TV the path of the hurricane aiming directly toward Palm Beach County. It eventually veered north and we were spared, but there was a feeling of helplessness as we realized that there was nothing that we could do from hundreds of miles away.
I’ve been through many hurricane seasons in which South Florida was unscathed, but places like Alabama and Louisiana were hit repeatedly during one season. There were years that North Carolina and the mid-Atlantic states bore the brunt of the wind and floods, while we Floridians did our usual sweltering from our heat and humidity.
Another cry we hear from the Northerners is “You have no change of seasons.” After living here all this time, you learn that that is not correct by any means. Those crisp mornings in the December, January and February are the opportunity we look forward to so that we can enjoy wearing those old heavy sweaters brought down from up North many years ago. Although in March and April, the mornings can still be cool and windy, it will usually rise into the 70s and 80s by late morning.
Something that I admit that we do miss are the mountains. We even get excited when there is a slight change in elevation. There’s a sidewalk in our neighborhood which rises slowly that we call “a hill.”
When one of my daughters was only about four years old and had never been outside of Florida, we were approaching an overpass in order to get onto the highway below when she asked me, “Daddy is this a mountain?” I guess from her perspective, we were going up!
There is one place in South Florida in Martin County, the next county north, where there is an area in Jensen Beach called the Skyline Drive section. It actually has some steep hills reaching the summit of the neighborhood. From many points on the road, the views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean are excellent. It is worth a visit up there just to see what we desperately call a small mountain.
Of course, there are several garbage dumps that are affectionately known here as Mt. Trashmores. Some of these landfill “mountains” have since been reclaimed and transformed into golf courses and public parks.
Every now and then, we get these amazing cloud formations in the mornings resembling distant mountains. Do you agree? At least we have fun imagining!