“Have a good summer!” The doctor’s receptionist hands me my receipt. “Are you going away?”
“Yes, to Florida,” I say. (Wait for it, wait for it…)
“Florida?” she screeches. “In August?”
Bring quickly to the boil…
That old saying, the one about only mad dogs and Englishmen going out in the midday sun, apparently has a Northeast American variation: Only mad dogs and Englishmen go south to the midsummer sun.
On the face of it, it makes sense. Why bother to fly south when the mercury is already at 90 degrees in New England, as it has been for much of this summer?
That’s all well and good, but no one questions your sanity in winter, when you announce you’re leaving the cold February gloom to find even colder weather in which to ski. If anyone did question it, the reasoning would be: “But the snow’s better in Colorado/Italy/Switzerland!”
Simmer for 7 days…
Well — she said defiantly — in summer, the sun and palm trees are better in Florida. Or Aruba. Or the Cayman Islands. While I love the maple and oak trees of New England in the Fall, they don’t look right amid tropical temperatures. It’s like lying on a sun lounger on an expanse of white sand, waiting for a margarita, and the waiter bringing you a cup of tomato soup instead. It’s just wrong.
“A-ha!” someone is bound to say. “But what about the hurricanes?”
True enough. Tropical Storm Isaac is right now barreling its way toward the Gulf Coast, where it is expected to reach hurricane strength. Yet the Northeast is not immune to summer storms, either. Exactly one year ago, Hurricane Irene arrived in Connecticut, downing trees and knocking out power for days. Two months later, the same thing happened again, but this time with a snowstorm called Alfred.
Now, you don’t see that very often in the Keys.
Remove from the heat…
The people who shun the roasting climes in summer prefer to go south in the colder months, and that’s fair enough. As I said in a post last Christmas, I would love to spend December 25 in a desert-island-like setting (albeit with room service.) That, however, means going farther south than good old Florida. I’ve had friends do the Disney water rides at Thanksgiving and come back home with streaming colds to prove it.
Thank you, but I’ll pass on that particular souvenir.
…And serve in July.
Perhaps this perverse determination to find somewhere hotter than my home climate stems from my nationality. I am from the country whose residents flee for two weeks every year in search of the summer that nearly always evades England. Perhaps I am genetically programmed to be suspicious of summer’s consistency in my place of residence, imagining that it can only be guaranteed a few thousand miles nearer the equator.
The only solution to this state of suspicion and dissatisfaction, as I see it, is to move there permanently. Perhaps it would have its drawbacks: people who move to Florida or the Caribbean often say they “miss the seasons.”
Me, though, I would happily give some seasons a miss.
STAY TUNED for Tuesday’s post, in which Tony James Slater tells us what it’s like to be an expat writer!
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