The problem with Florida

Don’t get me wrong… today – Tuesday, March 8, 2011… I am loving the fact that I am sitting here on Anna Maria Island dabbing lotion on my newly sunburned cheeks while my workmates back in Kansas City are facebooking about the giant snowflakes invading their skies. If I were Roman Catholic I would have to do a BIG bunch of penance for the glee I am taking in the misery of my friends.

But here is the thing: I am not sure I will ever be able to fully embrace or even trust a place that has no seasons. There is something about it that is just wrong, intrinsically. Life has seasons! Dark helps us appreciate light. Pain helps us appreciate un-pain. Absence pumps up presence, and winter makes summer a whole lot sweeter when it comes. A never-ending consistency of experience – even if that experience is made up of everything we think we crave – dulls the mind and flattens the spirit, I would propose.

And when you are in a place (as I am today) where the shared basis of human community is people who have escaped from somewhere else, you really have to tread lightly. Any questioning or challenging of the proposition that “Of course this is paradise! How could it not be??!!” will be swiftly and effectively dealt with. My wife’s sister moved from LaCrosse, Wisconsin to Phoenix 20 years ago and will not tolerate anything but rave reviews about the AZ weather. Joan and I take a little naughty delight in counting how many times we can make her say, “But we love it here!” in the course of a single conversation. The current record is eight.

In the end I am glad that places like Anna Maria Island and Phoenix exist. They provide great targets to set your sights on when the snow keeps falling and the cabin fever has finally gotten out of hand. But just as I could not eat strawberry shortcake for every meal, I seriously think I would freak out with 80 degrees and sunny every single day for the rest of my life.

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