Nine Novem

It is November, once the ninth month of the year before the Gregorians added January and February. The first day of November is the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere. Most people would think winter had deserted Florida. As a native born Floridian, nay a Miamian, I can feel the seasons change. And yes, indeed, it is winter. To the people born in places with more obvious seasonal changes,  winter in Florida is a study in subtlety. This is one of the only places Florida is subtle. Florida is usually brash, garish and half naked. So, you have to be perceptive and still enough to catch the seasonal drift. With weather in Florida, only the summer thunderhead smacks down on you with little warning. Even our hurricanes have days of forecast. Winter is a gentle glide. There is nothing sudden or unexpected. And it is in that slow shift that I am reminded of my roots. This is my place, my land. While my parents are from the deep south, Alabama and while I appreciate the Lowcountry marshes after having lived in the tidal world of Charleston, I am a Florida girl. I was born in Miami where tidal fluctuations are less observed. We paid more attention to chop. It wasn’t whether the tide was high or low it was how rough or smooth. Water was everywhere but not everything. Throughout history, Charleston lived by the moon and her tides. In my subconscious, I always know where the water lies. For me, the Atlantic is always east and the Gulf west. I am shelved between the seas, a stationary projection in the currents. And it is that peninsular mentality that allows me to feel the shift. I feel the flow around me. It never stops moving. It is not a lake, still and finite with unchanging shores. It is not a river, with everything flowing past in one direction. My world is the constant flow, the unbroken gulf stream that sweeps around. Upon that current comes the high clouds and the breeze and the slow turn to winter. We can turn off the air conditioning, even during the day. We complain about the dryness and lack of rain. We watch the leaves turn because even in Florida, the seasons are reflected in the life cycle of our foliage. Our pines and evergreens mask the underbrush, but the changes are there. I welcome the shift. I welcome the winter. For northerners and climes with more blunt seasonal delineation, winter is a time for dormancy and hibernation. In Florida, winter is our time to move. We have our fall and winter festivals. We plant winter gardens. We open our farmer’s markets. We canoe and bike and have marathons. The blasting heat of summer is our hibernation period. Now is a time to stretch, to breathe and to feel the flow. Even standing still, the current of energy that envelopes this panhandle state is palpable and energizing. Welcome winter.

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