Monday 21st May 2012

by chel

“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.” – Pema Chodron

bah!

It’s no mystery that I don’t like summer here in Southwest Florida.

It’s not that I hate the heat, because that’s fine. Kind of what I signed up for where I moved here. The humidity… well, not great, but that’s another year-round kinda thing.

But the rain? It’s too much. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome a rainy evening, when we’re all tucked inside and done with the day. I love the sound of rain falling as I sleep. Even a good storm can make a regular night exciting.

But the during the day, especially in the mornings and early afternoons? I *need* sunshine. It’s not just because I swim (although that is part of it), it’s just that I LOVE sunshine.  I LOVE blue skies. There’s nothing I hate more than having to have the lights on during the day, especially in the late morning.

And the rain doesn’t bring a cool breeze, it just sort of makes everything into this steamy, smelly, sauna-like haze. We live near the Everglades, and there’s some serious nature happening there. Things decay in the heat. Stagnant water smells. Etc.

You see that graphic above? That’s basically the weather forecast for the rest of the summer. Well, no, wait… in the summer the temperatures are usually in the 90’s here. So give or take ten degrees, there’s the forecast. FOR EVERY SINGLE DAY. UNTIL OCTOBER. RAIN. STORMS. CLOUDS.

So, summers are hard for me. I’m not going to lie. It’s my version of winter. I think it’s because it makes me feel trapped, and I somehow relate that to when I was a kid and stuck in bed, recovering from some surgery or health problem. Being outside alleviates those feelings for me. Big time.

Anyway, the GOOD news is that I have been here long enough to know that summers can bum me out. I don’t spend all those months wondering why I feel so terrible- I usually understand what’s going on, and I can work to counter it. I plan a few things, create a little bit of a game plan, start pointing out things I’m excited about. Because even though the weather is crummy, there are some LOVELY things about summer here in Florida.

I thought I would kick things off by making a list of all the things I actually *like* about summer. It will put me in a good frame of mind, I think.

Tourist/snowbird season is OVER.
The tiny island I live on which is swarming with people during “season” (November-April) will lose about 80% of its population in the summer months. That means it will be VERY quiet in the next few months. The people who remain here live and work here full time, so they have places to go, things to do. There are still some “idlers”, but for the most part, the pace goes from “nowhere fast, and that’s how we like it!” to “here, let me move out of your way…”

And that means…

Getting everywhere faster.
Our nearest “city” is Naples, and it’s about 13 miles away. On season, the drive takes about an hour. During summer? MUCH quicker. And that means that we can do more stuff in less time. We can start going to Naples on a whim instead of having to design a whole day around the commute. Tom will get to karate and back much faster, which will be a tremendous relief for him. It will also be more fun to drive. There’s nothing worse than being stranded behind two GIANT Lincoln Towncars driving side-by-side, going 25mph on a 55mph highway. It almost feels sinful to go at regular speeds, to get places quickly.

MOVIES.
Summer is movie season. And, as I discovered last year, I love going to the movies. LOVE.  Gracie and Tom love it, too. It’s kind of our family “thing”- if there’s a movie out there that’s fairly well reviewed and watchable, we go see it. And going to the movies late on a summer afternoon, sipping sweet tea in the col darkness of the theater, my two favorite people beside me, escaping for a while … bliss. We already have a giant list of movies we can’t wait to see this summer. And after we always get dinner and then frozen yogurt and maybe poke around Barnes and Noble (which is usually quiet in the summer…) for a bit. It’s a slow summer ritual, and I love it.

The sounds.
Because it’s much quieter around here (less population means less traffic, less “buzz” in the air, less music, less leafblowers, etc.) we can actually hear the Gulf of Mexico from our house. We can hear the birds. We can hear the breeze rustle the leaves in the palm trees.  We can hear the water lapping in the bay. We can hear the splash of the fish that jump. Summer is like having the volume of the natural world amplified and enhanced for several months. It’s pretty amazing. I love it, because it feels like *all* my senses awaken.

The flexibility.
I still associate summer with vacation. I don’t know what it is… it just *feels* okay to spend an afternoon reading, or to go to the movies when it’s still light out, or to take a few days off to “putter”. And that feeling of relaxation definitely emphasized now that Gracie’s in first grade and summer will be an actual *break* for her. She’ll go to camp for a few weeks, but for the most part, it’ll be leisurely around here. No rush for school in the mornings, no coming home tired in the afternoons. Just hanging out, swimming, playing games, reading, doing craft stuff. Sure, there will be boredom, but that’s okay.

The sunsets and skies.
Because of the rain, we get AMAZING summer sunsets. And when the sun does peek through, the skies are an amazing brilliant blue with big white puffy clouds.

- Longer days.
Longer days mean later sunsets which mean that I can stay outside later and later in the evening. I love curling up on the swing, reading, and just relaxing for a bit in the evenings before dinner.

- Visits.
An old friend is driving through later in the summer, and that’s exciting. I haven’t seen her since HIGH SCHOOL (hi, Christine!) And my cousin, who I haven’t seen in about 18 months, may be coming for an extended visit. She loves to garden and read and go to the zoo and she has a paper obsession like me so… I *really* hope she decides to come! It would be so much fun to have a summer sister :)

- Disney Trip.
It’s coming fairly soon. I’m excited and stressed, the typical mix of emotions before I travel. But Gracie is BANANAS excited. I have never seen her so excited to go to Disney before, and we usually go twice a year (driving distance + super cheap annual passes make Disney more affordable than most any other vacation, including day trips to the other coast of Florida). She’s counting down the hours, the days, the sleeps, the sunrises and sunsets ’til Disney. She’s writing lists of the rides she wants to go on. She’s talking about the restaurants, even. She calls up my parents to report the latest count to them, to remind them to get ready on time. Her excitement has made ME super excited. (But still anxious about getting everything done before we leave.)

 

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...comments...

  1. Su says:

    I hope you have a great time at Disney!

  2. Kim Mailhot says:

    Brava for finding the good things to look forward to this summer. It is one of those tools we people who are very affected by the seasons need in our tool box to make it through.
    Wishing you moments of glorious sunshine, even if they are just shining insde you !
    Light and love !

  3. sherilee says:

    Sounds like you have a whole lotta fun lined up for summer! I am eager for summer too. We’re experimenting with a bit of a different schedule for Seth this summer, and I will be looking forward to the lazy and luxurious month of August, when he’s with us, solid! (I’m choosing not to think about July right now. Just keeping my eyes on August!!)

    We woke up to a big thunderstorm this morning–pounding rain at 4:30 a.m., and it proceeded to rain off and on all day. A bit out of our end-of-May norm, but I’ll take it, since we have very little rain during the summer… I will be thinking of you with some odd jealousy round about middle of July when it’s 105 here and not rain in sight…

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hello!
I'm Chel (pronounced "shell", short for "Michele").

I'm a painter, writer, gardener, art historian, long-distance swimmer, crochet addict, movie watcher, animal lover, and avid reader.

Random facts: I grew up in New York (Long Island, to be specific), went to college and grad school in Atlanta, and now I live in Southwest Florida. I'm incredibly shy but I can be very chatty. I've been a vegetarian for 25 years. I swim five miles every day. I have an eight year old daughter and a 40-something year old husband. I'd rather eat kalamata olives than most anything, and I'm an AVID tea drinker. I exist with the steady background noise of meows (three cats), chirps and whistles (three parrots), and silence (an elderly gecko).

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