As the cheerful beach attendant dug our umbrella into the sand, he announced summer had ended last week. I know this is true in one sense. Summer is over because school has begun. But, in another respect, summer will continue for many weeks, even months in my home state. In Florida, we’ll still be swimming in October and going to the beach in January. Lots of people find this disconcerting, so they imagine our semi-tropical state can be forced into their preconceived notions of a summer vacation paradise. I can’t help but think that everybody would be much happier if they just embraced Florida’s natural rhythms.
Summer time is Florida’s rainy season. There’s a thunderstorm every afternoon, usually between 2 and 5 p.m. Nobody, even long-time residents, seem to remember this week to week. And this summer has been a particularly wet one. If you counted days without rain (as some of my friends are), you’d barely break into double digits. What’s been unique (and irritating to many) is that our “afternoon” thunderstorms have raged all day long and into evenings too, disrupting all sorts of vacation plans and pool parties.
So lots of people are complaining about Florida. In the elevator at the beautiful beach resort, two teenagers looked up from their iPhones only to tell us how glad they were to be leaving and going home to south Georgia. To Tifton, of all places. In what universe does Tifton, Georgia win over a Florida vacation?
Perhaps we’ve all seen too many superhero movies and fancy ourselves to be Thor, in charge of the heavens able to summon and clear storms at will. Such hubris, we should also recall, has unintended consequences. A wiser, more pragmatic approach would be to enjoy what Florida has to offer, when she offers it. This rainy summer I woke up earlier than ever just to enjoy the blue skies and take my morning walk, which incidentally was never rained out.
This past weekend, Daddy Rooster and I enjoyed our late summer getaway by embracing Florida’s rainy rhythms. We relaxed on the beach when we could, then ducked inside a restaurant during a morning downpour. While eating an early lunch, we chatted, read our books, and toasted our quick thinking. Later, when there was a break in the rain, we found comfy spots by the pool even though the water was closed due to “rolling thunder.” When the rain started up again, I took a nice dry nap under the wide umbrella. The pools did eventually open, and we floated down the lazy river with icy drinks in hand smiling at the blue sky, which was momentarily overhead. When the thunderclouds threatened again, we headed back to our room for a “nap.” By that time, we’d spent nearly nine hours outside on a rainy day, making the most of Florida’s summer weather.
Given the choice between complaining or embracing, it’s much more enjoyable and healthy to grab hold of what the day offers. However, if you want to avoid this type of uncertainty, for goodness sake, visit us in the fall or winter. That’s when we’re truly everything you hope for on a Florida summer vacation. I promise.