Florida Shivers

Posted January 10th, 2010

It’s only hours until we depart Florida and we’ll be as cold when we leave as we will be when we get home.

Not to complain, of course. We came here to have a week of comparative warmth and that it what we got. It was much worse in Maryland.

How cold is it in Florida? They brought the butterflies indoors at Butterfly World. The Brazilian squirrel monkeys at Bonnet House Museum and Gardens were flagging rides back to Rio. The vultures that winter in the high-rises in Palm Beach were wearing road kill rather than eating it.

Temperatures on two days, though, rose into the fifties and even a little beyond.

In Everglades National Park, anhinga birds spread their wings to dry and wood storks searched the muck for lunch. Alligators masqueraded as logs. Wakes of vultures mourned in trees and committees debated on the ground while venues gyred aloft.

In the last of the light we stopped at Paurotis Pond to finish off the last of the bread, salami and provolone and wash it down with the dregs of good Spanish rioja. Over water that mirrored green thickets and slips of blue sky, herons and roseate spoonbills and egrets arced in to roost. White plumage and pink feathers glowed against the darkness of water and trees, More and more of them came, dozens, scores, then more than I could count, and swallows veered in flights first left then right and left again.

As we continued north sunset spread in a shimmer of pink silk and fiery gauze; even as night spread out of the east and north the sky was not grey but rather a velvety and ambiguous lavender.

Even milder was the breeze the next day under the awning at Sergio’s in Miami. I discovered jupiña, a soda rather like wet and effervescent pineapple candy. A Cuban sandwich, a tiny cup of bitter-and-sweet café cubano: it was the vacation imagined as the snows of Advent buried our hillside and caused final exams to be cancelled.

Every good Plan A is backed by a Plan B. We had looked forward to the drive to Key West. Instead we took advantage of bone-chilling rain to do laundry and take in an early-afternoon showing of Avatar.

By the movie’s end in that refrigerated theater, my feet were numb to my knees. The movie was a bit of a disappointment. Not much story; life forms that resembled the misbegotten offspring of Jurassic Park and Fantasia; characterizations that were so flat that they didn’t achieve the fullness of stereotypes.

So now we ready ourselves for the flight home. Home—sweet, frozen home.


BLOG CATEGORIES: General, Travel, United States

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