Orange hibiscus flower in Florida. ©jcleveland

Welcome to Florida – Prepare to Die

Reading time: 3 Minutes

After 30+ years in the Sunshine State, I’ve seen a few changes. Not all for the good, but some very wonderful and surprising changes. For instance, the 10-year-old I brought here in the 1980s made me a Grandma in 2020. The state changes not so good. Too many people and not enough backroads. 

The life I’ve led here has been the life many women my age from my home town now talk about wanting to live. They long to leave the snow and bask in the sun of Florida.

Okay, but just know that everything in Florida wants to eat you. Flying, crawling, slithering. All the same. 

If it doesn’t want to eat you, it will chase you. Sometimes it will run over you. Ever see the running of the bulls? Picture it with wild hogs. 
When I got to Florida, it was part Wild West and part drunken stupor. Sometimes the two met under the thatch of a tiki hut and bamboo bar. This was even before Jimmy made that kind of living something to envy. 

We’ve got car races, boat races, rocket launches, sunken treasures and cockroaches the size of VW Beetles. For added fun and an aerobic workout, they fly! Erratically. 

The weather is so nice, the running of the wild hogs – the HD kind – is often the rumble you hear on an otherwise still summer afternoon. 

The other rumble is from the Space Coast as the rockets fling themselves out of Cape Canaveral towards destinations unknown at a million miles per hour. The aftermath is a slow building rumble that travels down the Indian River and convinces the dog that we’re all going to die. 

If that is not convincing enough, a double sonic boom rattles the garage door and vibrates the hurricane proof windows. You gotta admire the fact that those rockets can now be set down on a barge in the ocean rather than thrown into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. 
Hurricane Season 

Hurricanes, I’ve had my share. I’ve run from them. I’ve boarded up. I’ve ignored them, and I’ve defied them. Mostly, I’ve slept through them. 

There are two types of hurricanes: Those that annoy and those that destroy. I’ve been in both over the years. 

Word to the new resident. Putting duct tape Xs on your windows is the Midwestern equivalent to a snipe hunt. I’ll wait while you look that up. 

The most annoying part of the hurricane season is prepping for something that doesn’t happen. Yes, you’re lucky not to be in one, but what are you gonna do with those 40 cans of Dinty Moore Stew that you scarfed off the shelves in a self-preservation mode of FOMO? Church pantry will take your overstock. 

Every year, I put up a tracking map and inventory my canned goods. If the seasons have been quiet for a few years, your Hormel chili might be expired. Throw it out. No one wants expired chili beans. 

I’m coming up on the start of hurricane season 2022 – starts on June 1 and ends on Dec 1 and hurricanes are sure to adhere to the calendar -, and since I’m never going to eat the Sue Bee Chicken and Dumplings in the pantry, it’s time to regift it to the pantry. It’s still got a few years to go until it expires. Someone will say ‘Yum’. It just won’t be in this house. 

Newbies – make your list from the local Publix and get prepared to stock your pantries. It’ll be here before you know it. 

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