A year ago around this time we were under a second light blanket of snow in Northern Virginia. I’d put The Poodle’s smart Pendleton coat on for his obligatory morning and afternoon walk and of course I would don my own puffy down jacket, along with a wool scarf, wool hat and the warmest mittens I possessed. We’d walk in the freezing temps, tip-toeing ever so cautiously on ice and snow covered sidewalks, often with a wicked wind adding drama to the winter landscape, for as long as we could stand it, which wasn’t very long at all.
What a difference a year makes.
Though we woke to heavy morning fog a quick question to Alexa regarding the day’s forecast did not disappoint; the gloom would clear well before noon and no rain was expected. The Sunshine States’ winter season is infinitely more enjoyable than the frigid temperatures far up north and east of us. That said, even Florida experienced a couple of dramatic cold snaps this year. The most recent several weeks ago was part of a weather system that affected much of the east coast all the way up to Canada. Nor-Easters and heavy snow storms made headlines then. Florida too made headlines with some counties declaring a state of emergency because of temperatures at the freezing mark not to mention wildlife falling, seemingly, out of the sky.
I am not complaining. At the risk of offending anyone, I’m loving these “cold-stunned” days. Since winter officially began here I have worn my Ugg boots a total of ten times, which is about nine times more than I anticipated! Boy am I thankful that I resisted the impulse to donate them. Last week we had several 34-degree mornings in a row. We even had a thin layer of frost on the grass for all of one hour. I thought hard about subjecting The Poodle, once again, to his winter jacket (in the end, I cut him a reprieve). I actually didn’t mind the brief cold snap; I did not have to worry about being home-bound due to hazardous road conditions, and of course, I got to wear my Uggs.
Even better: No lizards! The cold has driven them somewhere–who knows where– which means I can leave our large lanai doors wide open and not worry about things skittering in! Just a bit south of us cold-blooded lizards and Iguanas were literally falling out of trees, and alligators (large and small) found themselves cold-stunned as hypothermia made them essentially immobile. While I haven’t seen any Iguanas (they reside further south of us) I learned that they too are not native to Florida and are considered an invasive species (Seriously; another one? What else doesn’t belong here?!). Anyhow, amazingly an Iguana can survive a 50 foot high fall from a tree (or building) unscathed. Animal loving folks need not worry however; as soon as the temps warm just a few degrees lizards, Iguanas and even the menacing looking gators become right as rain again, as it were.
The long walks in cooler temperatures have been lovely although truthfully, slightly boring at times. Oh for goodness sake; am I complaining?! Alas, seems so; Okay, okay…I will admit it: there was something to love about the gnarly, undulating paths in the old neighborhood. So yes, I chalk up my “meh”-tude to a lack of geodiversity; it is flatter than a pancake here for as far as the eyes can see.
Occasionally though, something really interesting catches the eye such as just the other day when walking along the length of one of the large neighborhood retention pond paths. An American Eagle sighting, likely the very same one that often sits atop the house across the street from us. He was literally a few yards away from me and he had me both awestruck and in stitches. In the blink of an eye the eagle swooped down to pluck a sizeable fish out of the water. He whizzed past me in a blur, fish wiggling in his talons, while an Anhinga in the water (a long-necked bird sometimes referred to as a water turkey) raised his head out of the water in a double-take manner as if to protest: Hey dude, that’s MY lunch!” In the split seconds that followed I was laughing too hard to react fast enough with the phone to capture the eagle flying off. Anthropomorphizing here, but that Anhinga sure looked mighty indignant although the nearby Pelicans, watching in stony silence, seemed unfazed by the brazen “theft”.
In a blink we will be heading into March and already I am steeling myself to the five month rainy season that typically begins in May. Thunder and lightning will traumatize The Poodle once again, and his faithful human (moi) will be pitching mini melt-downs to be sure about lizards and frogs and such. But for now, though I miss bringing my poodle love along with me on my morning walks (he simply cannot make it far these days), I’m truly savoring the gentle temps and easy breezy sunshine of my first Florida winter as much as possible. There is bliss in taking deep inhalations and long, slow exhales while watching the water meet the sand…there is bliss knowing that ice and snow won’t knock me on my keister! I’m loving this cold-stunned period of time.