Why Does Anyone Want to Live in Florida?

Spent the last four days scanning the NOAA website for the latest Hurricane Dorian track. Every time I saw the path cross central Florida I felt a familiar sense of dread. When the path passed over other parts of the state I felt guilt mixed with relief. Better them than me. Oops. Now the forecasted track has drifted east out over the ocean. I’m starting to cautiously relax.

I’ve weathered three tropical storms and four hurricanes in the last 27 years. Can’t say that I’ve acquired battle-weary nonchalance about the latest threats crossing the Atlantic or popping up off the east and west coasts. Instead I feel wary: come September and October, storms strike from every direction except due north.

Talked to my Dad yesterday while waiting for another track announcement. He asked, “Why would anyone want to live in Florida when you have to go through this every year?” Throw in long, hot summers (May to November), mowing the lawn nine months of the year, high crime rates, Florida men behaving badly, tourist-sensitive economies, real estate busts and booms, a crackpot legislature intent on damaging the environment and underfunding schools, and listening to extended Orlando newscasts (commercials) about the latest theme park attractions, and I’m ready to pack bags and sell the house.

Had to top off an elderberry tree growing near the house yesterday. Tropical storm force winds might have whipped its former branches against roof and windows. Stood on a sinking ladder (loose mud beneath me) while I sawed away. Leaned from side to side to rebalance the ladder as droplets showered down from the leaves above.

The tree had been a source of comfort for my wife. She could look out her bedroom window to admire butterflies sipping nectar from its frilly white flowers. Birds came to eat the berries. Lizards sunned on its branches.

Walked around the yard near sunset after returning from an anniversary dinner with Judy. Mellow light filtered through orange-pink-gray clouds. The firebush and passion flower vines are in bloom. Purple and white berries weigh heavily on beauty berry branches. An almost cool breeze blew from the west. A deep sense of peace and belonging settled on me.

Told my Dad that we’d probably move after a kid’s family settles down and I retire. I don’t think we’ll stay in Florida, but there’s times when I’m tempted.